Making Sense of the Texas Church Massacre: What You Believe Matters-Part 2

Does Christianity offer hope and comfort in the midst of life's most difficult circumstances? (image courtesy of pixabay.com).

Does Christianity offer hope and comfort in the midst of life’s most difficult circumstances? (image courtesy of pixabay.com).

In my previous post, I attempted to show that what you believe matters, and that when it comes to making sense of the Texas Church Massacre, atheism fails to supply adequate resources when responding to the problem of evil. I also brought up the fact that atheism offers very little comfort or satisfying responses to the parents at the bedside of a dying child, per the comments of atheist/philosopher Bertrand Russell

What I want to do now is show you the contrast of Christianity with atheism. What resources does Christianity have to offer those that are grieving in Texas right now? What comfort or, even, possibly satisfying responses can Christianity even begin to offer in contrast to the answers that atheism can give? Let me offer four of points

Your Suffering Is Not Pointless

1.Your suffering is not pointless (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4). Suffering within the atheist’s system basically says that there is no purpose behind any pain we experience since there is no One running the universe or orchestrating the events of life. Some people misquote the Bible, but often say, “Everything happens for a reason!” But if there is no God then nothing ever happens for any reason or ultimate purpose. Christianity, on the other hand, offers hope in the midst of even the worst suffering. We will never make full sense of the mind of God in suffering since we are unspeakably limited in our sight as to what God could be doing or allowing in any situation. However, we have hope that our all-wise God is able to extract good from even the worse circumstances. We do not see how God can bring good out of great pain, but that demonstrates the point exactly, namely, that we are not God. Only He is wise and skillful and powerful enough to build trophies out of ashes. We only see the underside of the quilt, which often looks ragged, but once we enter heaven, we will see more fully (although, I believe, not completely) the upper side of the quilt with a design and tapestry that we could have never seen, or ever imagined, while we were going through our trials. Christianity, as opposed to atheism, offers hope in the midst of our pain by assuring us that our suffering is not pointless.Only God is wise and skillful and powerful enough to build trophies out of ashes. Click To Tweet

Everlasting Joy, without ANY Pain, Awaits you in Eternity if you know Jesus

2.Everlasting Joy, without ANY Pain, Awaits you in Eternity if you know Jesus (2 Cor. 4:16-18, Rev. 21:1-5). The search for happiness and joy is a universal human endeavor.  If true, objective joy does not actually exist, then why are we searching for it as if it did exist? I think that our endless searching for joy and meaning and purpose gives us a clue as to what is at the base of reality.  Is it comforting, or even preferable, to imagine that once you die, you can enter into a world where everlasting joy is yours forever? On the other hand, it is comforting, or even preferable, to imagine that you, in no state whatsoever, will ever exist again?  If atheism is true, then you won’t exist anymore or anywhere.  Is it a joyous thought to think that you won’t exist anymore? All of the stories of the world either desire for, or end in, a happy ending. The desire for a “happy ending” is “hot-wired” within the human soul. See if these words below sound appealing or not:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” -Revelation 21:1-5

If God is real, if Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, and if the Bible is God’s revealed Word as completely and wholly true and infallible without any mixture of error, then the statements of Revelation 21:1-5 will be a reality for those that have accepted Christ and trusted in Him to save them from their sins. On the other hand, if atheism is true, then we have nothing to look forward to once we die and the only life we have is this miserable one down here full of pointless toil, pain, trials, and confusion.

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You can see your loved ones again who are in Christ

3.You can see your loved ones again who are in Christ (Rev. 21:1-5, John 14:6). Ponder for a moment about the people who you have loved the most on this blue dot called “earth.” Who are the people who you care about the most? Maybe it’s a parent or a sibling? Maybe there are dear cousins or aunts and uncles or grandparents that you love very much? Maybe it’s a spouse, children, or precious long-time friends that you cherish the most. We cannot deny their value in our lives and it is very difficult to imagine our lives without them. And maybe, for many of us, we’ve had many of those that we’ve loved the most leave us through death. We’ve gone to their funerals and watched the caskets lower into the ground as we weep, broken, and say our goodbyes. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed either officiating over or attending many funerals at this point in my ministry career, it is this: Death is quite unnatural. The human body and the human spirit, almost universally, desire to live and fights death. We, who are attending the funerals of loved ones, sit quite stunned and in shock that we have lost someone who we’ve loved very deeply. We truly, deeply love them and we feel as if there is some part of us that is missing with them absent from our lives.

As unthinkable as it is if there is no God and if there is no afterlife, then we can be assured that we will Never, Ever see anyone that we’ve loved again. The universe has played, as it were, a cruel joke of sorts on us. People are given to us, we become greatly attached to them, and then suddenly they are taken from our lives by death, and we are left with no hope of ever seeing them again. How comforting or satisfying, or even natural, does it feel to think that we will certainly never see our loved ones again?  Yet, if atheism is true, then we will never see them again. The surviving family members who lost loved ones in the mass shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs (Texas) will never meet them or hug them again if atheism is true.  Certainly, within Christianity, there is a possibility of being separated forever from your loved one should one accept Christ and go to heaven or reject Christ and go to hell. Yet, there is a possibility of living forever with our loved ones. It is a sure guarantee on atheism that everyone dies forever with no conscious life afterward.  How satisfying or comforting is this prospect?How comforting or satisfying does it feel to think that we will certainly never see our loved ones again? Click To Tweet

God is with us in our pain and we are not alone

4.God is with us in our pain and we are not alone (Daniel 3, Matthew 28:20b, 2 Cor. 1:3-7, Hebrews 13:5-6). In the world of atheism, there is no ultimate purpose in our pain, and there is, ultimately, no greater comfort to be found in our pain through God. We are, ultimately, alone and by ourselves, in our pain, if there is no God. Christians often testify to a sense of peace in the midst of some very difficult circumstances, and this gives witness to the presence of God that is with them and that they can experience through His Word and through His community. But if we live in an atheistic world, then we are “cosmic orphans,” as some have said, and we are by ourselves in our trials and struggles.  The verse below do not apply to anyone if there is no God:

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

If atheism is true then Jesus is not with us until the end of the age. If atheism is true then there is no God to comfort us in all our affliction and there is no Christ with whom we can share abundantly in comfort. If atheism is true, then there is no God that will ever say (or any one Being or person!) “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and there is no God that will ever be our “helper” in the midst of trials and storms. But if atheism is false and there is a God, then we have a peace and a comfort that transcends the understanding in the midst of the hardest trials of life. One need only to survey Christian history and read the comments of those that have gone through horrible tragedy and pain, yet they find God in the very midst of the darkest roads this life has to offer.

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