Overcome the World

photo from indulgy.com
I don't need to remind you of the tragedies in our nation the past couple of days.

You hear the reports. You read the websites. You've seen the pictures. You've watched the video. And if you're like most people, you're asking questions.

I work with kids, youth and their parents for a majority of my profession. Last night I got to teach 3rd-8th graders and even a couple parents. Both groups of young people brought up Boston (the plant explosion in Texas hadn't happened yet), which led to Newtown, which, to my surprise, even led to Oklahoma City by my 8th grade youth (I was young when that happened, so the fact that that one was brought up surprised me). In true childlike form, the questions started coming...
Why would someone do that?
Why can't our nations just get along? (war in general was also brought up)
Why would they do that at a race?

And the worries and fears came out...
Terrorism is scary. What if it happens here?
We're such a small place. That wouldn't happen here. Would it?

I was in 8th grade when Columbine happened. I don't remember hearing much, if anything, about terrorism until 9-11 happened, and I was in high school. It amazes and saddens me that my youth have fairly legitimate fears of school shootings and terrorism and other human-initiated problems.

So the couple moms who were in the youth class with me joined me in listening to the worries and questions. Questions we couldn't really answer.

Or could we?

We all acknowledged that we don't know the specific reasons why people have acted the way they have in recent days, weeks and months. But, I told the youth they know exactly why these things are happening.

We live in a sinful world filled with sinful people. Since Adam and Eve, sin has been an issue. Until we are taken to heaven, sin will continue to be an issue. I reminded them of a couple different Scripture passages.
"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places." Matthew 24:6-7

I told them I wasn't telling them this to scare them, but to help them see that we don't have to be surprised or even scared of these things that are happening. Jesus says there will be wars. Our nations won't all get along. There will be hatred. There will be trouble and tragedy. Sin is a powerful force in our world. But, I told them, Jesus says something else, too.
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

In this world we will have trouble. Wars, shootings, bombings, abortions, preventable deaths, hunger and thirst, disease and so much more. Our own sins of doubt, pride and hatred will come into play. But, friends, please don't forget that our God is so much bigger than all of this. God is more powerful than any leader or nation or person out to terrorize. Even in the midst of hurt, sorrow, confusion, fear, death and worry - God is in control. He is not far away; He is right by your side.

Jesus has overcome the world!

Did you pick up on the verbiage in that? Jesus has overcome. It's already done! In his death and resurrection, Jesus conquered sin. Jesus put Satan in his place. Jesus lives, and he won our lives back, too! Jesus calms our fears, eases our worries, and turns our sorrow into joy. Jesus brings peace and comfort to our hurting lives and world.

I told the youth that Jesus is the hope we have to hold on to when bad things happen. He's who Boston can hold on to for hope today. He's who Texans can turn to for hope. Jesus is who Newtown can lean on even months after horrible actions. The world can't offer the hope and peace that Jesus can. We see what the world can offer. But God has so much more to give us. And we Christians are the carriers of the peace, hope and comfort God has for those who are suffering.

I pray that during these times Christians can be courageous in their living out the Gospel. The world needs the Light of Christ, and we have it! Let's be bold. Let's help. Let's pray. Let's show the love of Christ in our actions. Let's be willing to be used by the Holy Spirit to shine much needed light into our dark world.

We don't have to be scared. Take heart. Jesus has overcome the world!
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