Mourn and Weep with Hope

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’ Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’”
Revelation 7:9-14
Dear Servants,
As news of the brutal deaths of innocent members of First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, TX unfolds, I return to the readings from our All Saints’ Day service (Nov.1), particularly the reading from Revelation above. We may never know the human reasons for this and other killings, but we know the evil one works in human sinfulness to kill, steal, and destroy. I pray for these latest victims, remembering that they are just a few more of the countless victims of persecution against believing communities around the world each day. Jesus acknowledges such persecutions in His sermon from Matthew 5, verse 10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
How does Jesus call us to respond in the face of tribulation? He proclaims in verse 13, “you are the light of the world.” We respond to evil by proclaiming the light of Jesus Christ in a dark world. John’s Gospel says the darkness cannot overwhelm the light of Christ! (John 1:5) The Lord has given us gifts, talents, opportunities, and a place to testify to God’s goodness in spite of all that we must endure for a while. I was so encouraged Sunday by the believing community that gathered for worship. We were full of both praise and lament. God’s people must do both. I am also so thankful to many who have stepped into ministry leadership in various ways, especially over the last few months, to strengthen our church community. Each of you through your ministry involvement is making a difference for the Kingdom. Just being together matters!
Now, of course, even as we mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep, we do not do so as those without hope. For Revelation 7 goes on in verse 17,
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Jesus is our good shepherd; He is with us through the time of tribulation and will bring us to a place where pain and sorrow are no more. In the meantime, we labor on, confident that Jesus who began a good work in us will see it to completion!  (Phil.1:5)
Lots of great things to share with you soon. Keep praying!
Onward and upward,

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