Tornadoes, Shooting Sprees, Crazy Dictators, and Other Flaming Arrows

Ephesians 6:16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

The news is always crazy, but this week it has seemed more than usual. It hit home for me when large portions and outlying areas of my hometown of Canton were destroyed by EF3 tornadoes. It also seems that every time I have seen the news recently there has been another random shooter rampage, or a knife wielding person stabbing students at random, terrorist attacks, and to top it all off that psycho in North Korea is getting more and more adamant about war with the U.S.A.

One of the things tornadoes, active shooters, terrorists, and crazy dictators all have in common is their unpredictable and uncontrollable randomness. With all the “intelligence” we have about our enemies and about severe weather, these things mentioned above still take us by total surprise.

While Ephesians tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces in the heavenly realms”, these physical struggles tend to impact our spiritual faith. Resulting in many people asking questions like “where is God?” or “why would a loving God allow this?” Satan is great at being the root cause of all tragedy and evil, but then pointing the finger at God, convincing people to blame God instead of him.

This is why our “shield of faith” is so critical. With every trial and tragedy experienced either personally or vicariously through other people with whom we sympathize, we have the choice of letting it strengthen our faith or weaken our faith.

We live in a fallen world where we are all vulnerable to chance. Matthew 5:45In this way you show that you are children of your Father in heaven. He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust.” It’s interesting how rain and sun are both good and vital to life on Earth; however, depending on the situation and amount they can both be deadly.

We are also subject to the consequences of free will. The primary difference between Heaven and Earth is that God’s good and perfect will is done perfectly in Heaven. That’s why Jesus prayed “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”. One day it will be, but until then we are left with the ripple effect consequences of man’s rebellious will.

In all these situations we must pray for God’s shield of faith to extinguish these fiery arrows from Satan. It’s not that this shield will always protect us physically, but that our faith will be protected. That is the only way Job was able to have this response in the wake of such unimaginable tragedy:

Job 1:20-22Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said,

“Naked I came from my mother,
and naked I will return.
The LORD has given,
and the LORD has taken away!
May the name of the LORD be praised.”

22 Through all this Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong.

In regard to faith, the apostles both encourage me and discourage me. I’m discouraged because after all they experienced first hand with Jesus and through Jesus, they still had “lack of faith” moments. At the same time, I’m encouraged by Jesus’ words to Thomas in John 20:29 “You believe because you’ve seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me but believe.”

From beginning to end, the faith of the apostles varied greatly. They had enough faith to leave everything and follow Jesus when He called them. Then their faith was wrecked and they scattered at Jesus’ crucifixion. Even after His resurrection their faith took time to reemerge. I’m amazed at these often overlooked verses just before Jesus’ Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-17The eleven disciples went to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they bowed down in worship, though some had doubts.

Some had doubts”?!?! As they worshipped the resurrected Lord?! However, these same apostles who struggled with doubt in this moment would go on, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel boldly, perform many miracles, and die violently for their faith in Jesus!

I don’t know how to summarize this message in my own words, so I will let God do that for me…

Romans 8:35-39What will separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can trouble, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or violent death separate us from his love? 36 As Scripture says:

“We are being killed all day long because of you.
We are thought of as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties. 38 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces 39 or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.

1 John 5:4-5because everyone who has been born from God has won the victory over the world. Our faith is what wins the victory over the world. 5 Who wins the victory over the world? Isn’t it the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Revelation 12:11Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,

“Now the salvation, power, kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah have come.
The one accusing our brothers and sisters,
the one accusing them day and night in the presence of our God,
has been thrown out.
11 They won the victory over him because of the blood of the lamb
and the word of their testimony.
They didn’t love their life so much that they refused to give it up.”

Now let us take up our shields of faith, because faith is the victory! “Lord, increase our faith!”

Other Posts You Might Like:

Distractions - Brandon Bell

Your Concept of Time - Brandon Bell

Called to Serve - Bob Bentley

Fruit - Beau Davis

Discipleship - Reagan King



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