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His Way

Hope

Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Most of us who have been touched by addiction know the thief.  Satan has ravaged our lives with doubt, loss, betrayal, theft, and brokenness.  Both the addict and their families know all too well the works of the enemy.  The loss of life, death.

Long before Moses, Abraham, and David, there was a man named Job.  The story of Job begins with horrific and sudden loss.  Job has back to back to back messengers report the theft of much of his business, another reported that lightning struck and killed his flock and servants, and another came to tell him another group came and stole what property he had left, and lastly and most personally, a microburst hit his oldest son’s house where all his children were – killing them all.  The thief had hit hard and complete.  There was nothing left except his wife and his health.  But that doesn’t last long.  His health is struck with sores from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head.  And his wife…well, she encourages him with such taunts as, “Do you still hold fast your integrity?  Curse God and die.”

This launches Job into a quest to understand why suffering happens.  His friends come to “comfort him” while merely chastising and accusing him of wrong doing as an explanation for his terrible turn of events.

After a lengthy dialogue with Job’s three friends, plus God Himself, Job concludes that he will remain faithful to God, even though he does not understand.  For his loyalty, God restores Job’s health and wealth.  He even gives him seven more children!

But even though the story of Job ends well, that doesn’t mean that there is no loss.  Job will always have the scars from his sores, the memory of his wife’s taunts, and the children he is blessed with will never replace the ones he lost.

Our hope is not in getting back what we lost, but being changed into what God wants us to be.  He will bless us, but the blessing will be new…not a replacement for the old.

Our hope in Christ is not getting back the old, but receiving the new.  This is the “abundant life”.

Tom Reynolds

Collateral Damage

The stories of the innocent victims, simple bystanders cheering on their loved ones and friends at the end of one of the most grueling of human endeavors, the Boston Marathon, is horrifying.  The highly respected Richards family now has a little girl missing a leg, a mother battling for her life with metal fragments lodged in her head, and 8 year old, Martin, gone forever – an innocent family tragically tore apart by a homemade bomb.

The public outcry over this tragedy is that innocent people have lost their lives because some want to make political statements at others expense.  Perpetrators call these innocent lives lost or devastated –  “collateral damage.”  They were not individually targeted, but were unfortunate victims of the act of terror.  They are collateral damage.

The reality is that every act of sin brings with it collateral damage.  Innocent people suffer for every act of rebellion that a person chooses.  Whether it’s a drunk driver’s victims on the roadways, a mother grieving over an overdosed child, a child who loses a father to irresponsible choices, children whose families are torn apart by infidelity and divorce, there are always innocent victims to every act of sin.

We’d like to think that at worst we are only harming ourselves, but the reality is that we are all deeply interconnected and that every action we take effects other innocents.  We cannot escape our impact on others.

The Boston bombing is only the most recent, visible and obvious proof that every act of sin brings with it collateral damage.

Hope In Boston

The FBI, National Guard, Terror Task Force, and the entire intelligence community are searching frantically and fiercely for the perpetrator of this ghastly bombing that has killed 3 and hospitalized 183.  America and the world is asking who did it.  Who is behind this crime?  Is it an international group like Al Qaeda or some other terror organization bent on hatred against our nation and way of life?  Or worse is it some home grown domestic terrorism from the likes of Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph?

Surprisingly, none of these organizations have asked me who the source is and yet I recognize the pattern and evidence of this crime.  I see it every day in the lives of those devastated by his acts of terror; the shattered lives, the innocent victims, the dazed and confused looks, the panic and hysteria.  The cause is the thief.  “The thief comes ONLY to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10)  And this attack on Monday did all of this.  It obviously killed three innocent people; a 29 year old woman, a Chinese exchange student, and a young 8 year old boy.  It destroyed countless lives, property, and a way of life.  And it stole our peace, our joy, our celebration on Patriots Day, and our future.  This can only be the work of the thief.

As we want to point fingers and place blame, let us remember that evil is at the root of all of this.  The organization is much broader than a terror cell and much more extreme than any religious fanatic.  And is has been terrorizing far longer than 9/11.  Since mankind’s inception in the Garden, Satan has been at work to destroy our relationship with God, each other, and even ourselves.  He is highly skilled and well trained.  Though his efforts are not new, they are pervasive, well developed, and systemic within us and our relations.  We are fallen and we live in an obviously very fallen world.

Paul warns us in Ephesians 6:11, 12 that we must, “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  The devil has well developed schemes, the greatest of which is to get us thinking that people or institutions or organizations are the source of the problem.  Our finger pointing at one another will continue to keep us battling against the wrong cause and not the true source.

What we face is a spiritual battle that only has a spiritual cure.  Jesus states this cure in the second half of John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” So, in the midst of our grief as we wait for news of the perpetrator let us not be distracted by the human blame game.  Let us begin an honest quest for life in Christ.  This is the only true answer to Satan’s reign of terror.  And the only true hope in Boston.

Tom Reynolds