Yesterday, not long after we had finished our own worship service, a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas was interrupted by someone with evil intent seeking to cause death and destruction. There is a lot we still don’t understand, and it is likely we will never know everything about what led to this horrible tragedy. I can’t help but think about the connections between this horrible event and the sermon from Daniel 10 yesterday entitled, “A Spiritual Battle.” In that sermon, I urged us to remember that our true enemy is not flesh and blood, but the dark spiritual powers at work in our world (Ephesians 6:10-13).
Daniel 10 also reminds us that God offers comfort even in the midst of this battle. If you’re anything like me, you hear the sad details of what took place—a 14-year-old pastor’s daughter gunned down, a church member saying that half of the congregation is gone—and you despair. We think, “what can I do?” and we feel utterly helpless in the face of evil. When Daniel heard about the spiritual battle that was taking place around him, this is a similar response. He wrote, “I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless” (Daniel 10:8, NIV 2011). But God’s messenger places a hand on Daniel’s shoulder to offer comfort (Daniel 10:10), the messenger tells Daniel not to be afraid (Daniel 10:12), and he gives Daniel the strength he needs to face the battle (Daniel 10:18).
God offers us the same comfort in Christ. When we feel overwhelmed, when we stand helpless in the face of senseless tragedy and incomprehensible evil, Jesus invites us to come to him and receive rest (Matthew 11:28-30). We are promised that we will be able to stand in the face of the evil in our world. We are ultimately promised that Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
I want to remind us that as followers of Christ, we are called to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44). I concluded the sermon yesterday by saying that ultimately this battle must be won by love. It seems like such an ironic idea—what kind of battle can be won by love? Only a spiritual battle, and it’s the only way this battle will be won. Love is stronger than hate, and God through Christ, has offered his people love in an unending supply.
I love you all. Let’s love those around us well.