Last Sunday was to be a celebration of life and resurrection. After all, it was Easter Sunday! And for most Christians around the world, it indeed proved festive and joyful. Yet, explosions in Sri Lanka ripped through the celebrations and left tragedy in the streets. Three churches and three hotels were bombed in simultaneous attacks resulting in over three hundred deaths and countless injuries. The scene was horrific. And the question lingered: how do we make sense of such unbelievable terror and carnage? At the risk of oversimplifying the answer, let me offer some thoughts.
First, we live in a fallen world that has been wrecked by sin, and that rebellious spirit has impacted every fiber of our being. Satan and his armies have exploited our sin nature as to cause as much pain, suffering, and death that he can here on this earth. Don’t miss this. Even though radical Islamists have claimed responsibility, it is the Evil One that conceives and empowers such destructive plans.
Second, this world is not our home. As believers, we should always regard ourselves as sojourners through an unfamiliar, distant land. We should never find comfort here. The world hates us just as it hated Him, and we should never be surprised by what the world hurls toward us.
Third, we should pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters as we stand united with them. As the missionary Nik Ripken relates, “There is not a persecuted church and a non-persecuted church. There is only one church.” When our spiritual siblings are in pain, so are we! Whether they are targeted in Sri Lanka or in Louisiana (where three predominantly African-American churches were recently burned), our fellow believers are a part of who we are.
Fourth, there is victory! Isn’t that what our Easter celebration was really about? In the midst of sorrow and pain, those early disciples found an empty tomb! Death had been defeated! Christ had risen! Satan and his demonic league may inflict damage upon us, but they do so as vanquished foes. Indeed, the adversary is in his final death throes and trying to do all he can before he faces his ultimate demise. Christ is victorious, and He will consummate that victory one day. And for those who die in Him now, there is a place of immediate peace and life! Praise Him for that confidence!
Let’s keep proclaiming that good news to everyone with whom we come in contact. They need it, and we need to be reminded as we share it. Thanks always for your faithfulness to one another, to our community, and to His work. Oh, and by the way, thanks for your generosity in taking the victorious message to North America. You have exceeded our goal for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering by giving $68,844.84! How awesome! I look forward to seeing you Sunday!