By Pastor Paul Horn
This morning when I woke up, the first thing I saw as I powered up my cell phone was a news headline: 50 dead, 200 injured in Las Vegas.
My first reaction, “Not again…” My second thought, “Why? Who are these people? What is our nation going to do to stop this?” I know the answer. It’s not gun control. It’s not keeping terrorists out of our country. It’s not improved mental health care. It’s me. The sobering reality is that I am the problem. The Apostle Paul reminded us last Sunday that nothing good lives in our sinful nature. (Romans 7:18) Jesus reminds us that from the sinful nature flows anger, rage, violence, racism, hatred, aggression (Matthew 12:19) – and the sobering reality that I’m just as capable of doing what Stephen Paddock did last night. It is our sin that ruined the perfect world God so lovingly created.
It is our sin that brings evil.
We could blame God for this, but it’s our own fault. We could for blame God for standing by and not doing anything. But he has done something already. In his great love and compassion for our broken world he sent his Son Jesus who said, “I am the good shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again.” (John 10:14-18) Your Good Shepherd laid down his life for yours to spare you from yourself, from your sin, your hell and your death. It is Jesus’ blood shed for you that brings true peace – peace of knowing that you are right with God, that your sins are pardoned, that heaven is yours – and no one, not even wolves like Stephen Paddock, can take that from you.
Even if we had been one of the 58 who died in that crowd of 20,000 we could say that our Good Shepherd kept us safe. He brought us home to heaven. We pray that those who grieve today and in the days to come would find comfort in Jesus’ words.
As we continue to ask questions about this and all of the other acts of violence and anger that are erupting in our country, let us find comfort and hope in the words of our Good Shepherd who promised, “No one can snatch my sheep out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:20)
Your Good Shepherd has a tight grasp on you and will not let you go, no matter what happens to you or your family.
As you discuss last night’s tragic events with your family, share these words with them, yes, even your children. Use this as a teachable moment – teach them to remember their baptisms daily, when the blood of the Good Shepherd washed them of their sins. Teach them how to pray in times of trouble. Encourage them to rely on their Good Shepherd, who promises never to leave us nor forsake us, so we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5,6) Let them see you receiving the Lord’s Supper as often as it’s offered, for the strengthening of your soul.
Listen to his Word daily.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, for the days are evil. Keep us safe. Help us to repent daily. Strengthen our faith so that we cling to you as we wait for your return. Bring us safely to our eternal home. Comfort the grieving and calm the fearful. Bring peace to our nation.
Pastor Paul Horn is the Pastor of Mighty Fortress Lutheran Church (WELS) in Hiram, Georgia.
You can learn more about him and his church at http://mflc.tv/