Choosing Hope in Charleston

This morning, I didn’t want my husband to go to work. I didn’t want him leaving the house, really, since there was still a murderer on the loose after a shooting spree in downtown Charleston — 30 minutes from our home. I especially didn’t want him going to our North Charleston assembly building, since the shooter had gone into a Bible study and killed nine people just hours before. But after a moment of dread, I realized we had nothing to fear. The Lord is near to those who love Him, and He is our deliverer in times of trouble.

Our city is in such upheaval today. Though at varying levels, we are all hurting. When innocent people die, everyone feels it. Everyone mourns for them. Everyone wants justice. That is where we are today as a community and even a nation. Sadly, though, it’s a step further than that. It wasn’t simply a random attack on innocent people; it was a targeted attack…an attack on people out of sheer hate for something they cannot control — the color of their skin. And so humanity mourns today, though not simply for the loss of precious life. We mourn that people still see with a physical lens instead of a spiritual one. We mourn that people have sided with Satan instead of allowing the God of love to dictate their actions. We mourn that anyone had to die, but we mourn especially that we live in a world that doesn’t know God, and therefore cannot know peace.

Christians have such a huge responsibility in moments like these. We cannot get caught up in the mob mentality. We cannot allow bitterness or hatred to creep into our own hearts so that we harbor ill will toward anyone. Instead, we must only seek peace. We must only say and do things that will promote Christ’s message, not our own agendas. We must do things that bring races and social classes together, not say things that only drive more of a wedge. And above all things, we must pray to our heavenly Father to use this and situations like this to bring people to Him. We must ask for and seek after opportunities to serve others so that they can see Jesus. We must ask for and seek after opportunities to spread love and peace and knowledge of God and the Prince of Peace to our fellow man. We cannot sit idly by. But, we cannot participate in things that align us with the rest of the world, either. Instead, we must only say, share, and ‘like’ things that will promote peace and will reflect Jesus’ light.

There is so much unrest. Come Sunday morning, there will likely be fear and apprehension. But as people of God, we must choose hope instead. We must choose to grasp our hope — our expectation that heaven is real and awaiting us — and share it with others. We must choose to not let evil paralyze us, but instead allow the hope we have in Jesus Christ to propel us to do even more in His name to glorify our Father in heaven.

I am confident in my God and His promises. He has said He will never leave me or forsake me. Should someone filled with hate do something terrible to us while we’re assembled to worship Him, we will not fear. What can man do to us? He cannot separate us from the love of God or from His saving power. Whatever happens to us on this side of life is nothing compared to the glory that awaits us if we overcome the evil one and cling to our hope in Jesus Christ.

Join me in praying for the families of the victims of this senseless event. Join me in praying for Charleston, that peace may come to her streets. But most of all, join me in praying for the hearts of the children of God. Let us all have courage and confidence in Jesus, and let us give that hope to the watching world.

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