Rev. Brent Kuhlman
Romans 8:28 “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
Job 1:13-22 “May the Name of the LORD be praised!”
When horrific events like this happen, it is time to have a serious talk. After all, these are serious times. I suppose there are many times as you hear a preacher like me or listen to a sermon from preachers like me, that you really don’t pay attention. You have other things on your mind. But today I’ll bet you are prepared to hear God’s Word. The murderous, shooting spree at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado early Friday morning stops you in your tracks. You take a deep breath and feel the beat of your heart pounding away.
Perhaps now you’re paying attention. I pray that you hear God’s Word proclaimed here with a determination like you haven’t had since the events of 9-11, the killings at Columbine or some tragedy in your life. You want God’s help. You want Him to strengthen your faith in Him all the more. And not just yours but all those who mourn the death of these folks in Colorado.
You’re still in shock. I am in shock too. Your emotions are like a roller coaster. So are mine. You watch the news reports. You hear the interviews. But the big question that we all ask is: “Why?” “Why would this happen to these people?” “Why didn’t God stop this?” “Isn’t God in charge of everything?” “He’s sovereign isn’t He? So why? Why?”
The police will investigate. The psychiatrists will evaluate. The TV and radio pundits will spin. Besides the fact that the murderer is a sinner like all of us, I don’t know why. God hasn’t given us any specific answer.
The murderer just did it. Recklessly. Appallingly. Now we have to deal with the results.
So I will proclaim God’s promise to you from the apostle Paul. What is that? Here it is: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
Did you hear that? I’d better say it again because it is so incredible: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.” This “in all things” applies most especially to what happened in that Aurora, Colorado movie theater. You are called once again to believe this. To trust God’s promise. Even and most especially when all your reason and all your senses say that it just can’t be true!
“Easier said than done Pastor Kuhlman!” Yes. I know. It’s not easy to believe that “in all things” God works good for you. Trusting that promise when everything’s going our way is easy. But when twelve people are brutally murdered in cold blood and fifty-eight have been harmed, well . . .
These are the times when the rubber of the Christian faith hits the road. Hard! It’s like a crash course!
Just like for Job, “the greatest man among all the people of the East“(1:3). He had seven sons and three daughters. A very respected businessman and farmer. Quite well to do. Owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys. Employed hundreds of people to take care of his livestock.
He trusted God. Believed in the promise of the Savior who was to come. He prayed for his children and offered the burnt offering every morning as he relied on God’s forgiveness for all sin, especially the sins his children might do while . . . well, you know, partying. They were always doing that. And you know what happens at parties. Just ask any university community. Ask the friends of Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan. Read Tom Wolfe’s book I Am Charlotte Simmons.
Job and his family lived in the country. A “safe” secluded place. Tucked away in the rural, lazy land of Uz. Where you don’t need to lock your doors at night. Where you trust your neighbors with anything and everything. The donkeys graze peacefully in the pastures. The oxen do their plowing.
Then in the midst of this pastoral scene: tragedy strikes! Out of nowhere! Arabians attack! They steal Job’s donkeys and oxen. Every last one! While they’re at it, these ruthless thieves brutally decapitate all the employees except for one who escapes and tells Job the terrible news.
Job receives another awful report. All of his sheep and the shepherds have all been burned to a crisp! How? By a wacky lightning storm! Only one messenger escapes the fires to tell about that.
Then another horrific report arrives. Gangs of Chaldeans have stolen all of Job’s camels. They too have viciously massacred more of his employees.
Can it get any worse? Really? Yes. Sadly, more tragedy! Horrific heartbreak! This time it happens to his children! A tornadic windstorm blows up! It utterly destroys the oldest son’s house while all his siblings are having a dinner party. As a result all ten of Job’s children are crushed in the rubble! Killed! Dead! Just like that! In the blink of an eye!
Job is stunned! Staggered! Who wouldn’t be? In one day he’s been targeted and singled out by Arabians and Chaldeans, by a lightening storm and a tornado. He’s lost everything, humanly speaking. All his wealth has vanished! Worst of all every one of his beloved children have been killed! He has to bury them all at the same time!
What did he do to deserve any of this? Nothing. Yet it happened. His safe haven of Uz has been violated. Desecrated.
What will he do? What will he say? His wife gives him some advice: “Curse God and die you silly old man!” (Job 2:9). However, there are the words of the apostle: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
Job doesn’t ask why. His wife and his neighbors do. Instead, Job gets up. Tears his robe. Shaves his head. Yes, he’s devastated. He’s deeply hurt. His body throbs with immense heartache and the deepest of sadness!
Then Job does the unthinkable. The irrational! The absurd! What does he do?
HE WORSHIPS GOD! “Then he fell to the ground in worship.” He trusts in the Lord! In life! In tragedy! In horrific murderous events! He trusts the Lord no matter what. Listen to his faith:”Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart” The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
May the name of the Lord be praised? Are you kidding me? No way! Yet, Job says this because he trusts the Lord’s Word of promise that in all things God works good. Job really believed this. So can you — even in these most heartrending and faith challenging events.
Our fellow citizens in Colorado have been brutally taken away from their beloved families and friends. Many others have been injured. It hurts. We ache. We are horrified. However, there remains the “in all things” promise. In addition, there are the worship words of Job: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
You too can praise the Lord’s Name today. Because of another good: Good, good, very Good Friday! On that day God did something! He acted! For these folks in Colorado! For you, me and the world! There on the cross God in Christ dropped dead! Stone cold dead. Graveyard dead! For them, for you and for all!
In His Mount Calvary, very good, Good Friday death, God Jesus embraced all the gunk, rot, and filth of every sin and every sinner. Everything that is wrong with the world He took in His body and He answered for it. He took care of it! He holds it all . . . RECONCILED . . . in His nail-scarred hands. His death includes this monstrous sin of murder committed against these Coloradoans!
“Father, forgive them.” That was Christ’s Good Friday prayer. All is forgiven because God Jesus acted. Because He did something about this broken world! That’s why He said:”“It is finished.” Then He died!
Jesus too asked the “why” question on the cross for Job, the murdered and harmed, and all of us. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He gets no answer from His Father. However, He doesn’t get down from the cross. He stays put! He suffers in the silence. He trusts that, in His grizzly crucifixion and gory death, even when His Father doesn’t answer His question, good will come from it. Consequently, Jesus prays: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.“
“Where are you God?” Here is the answer! He’s in His Son hanging on the Cross.
“Why won’t you do anything God?” He did. He reconciled the world to Himself in His Son’s once for all time and for all people death. That’s good! Really good! For in Christ crucified and risen all things have been made new. The old has passed away. Behold the new has come. God brings life through death. Victory through loss. This is what you are given to trust. You are given to use God’s promise of working all things for your good against all your reason and every one of your senses, especially your sight!
As you trust the Lord’s promise you are free to pray. Just like Jesus! “Father, into your hands I commend myself, my body, and all things (including these tragic murders and harm).” You are free to pray for the police and investigators! That the Lord will use them as His hands, eyes, and ears to do their work faithfully! Free to pray for the judge and jury who will hear this case! They too are the Lord’s instruments to carry out a fair trial and hand out appropriate punishment. In addition, you are free to pray for the murderer. For his full confession, perhaps some kind of explanation and for his repentance!
You are free to use your hands and mouth for the benefit of theses families who have been deeply affected forever by this murderer. Cards. Condolences. Sympathies. Good wishes. Facebook posts. Tweets and Twitters. God’s heartiest blessings. And the prayers! For you too are the Lord’s instruments to help them any way that you can.
In the midst of all your care for the grieving and the injured, Jesus is there. As your Savior! As their Savior! In all things doing what He’s promised. Working all things out for good! That’s His cup of tea!
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
The peace of the Lord be with you all.
In the Name of Jesus.