I have seen the headlines of the shooting in Uvalde yesterday.
I have not read the stories.
I started to read one article. But I closed the web page. My heart couldn’t take it. I started to cry. “Lord…Lord…how many more? How much longer until You return and make all things right?”
I have not written about every ungodly act of violence. But I have written about violence several times. Most of what I say in those posts still applies today.
I have been thinking numerous things about this event, but my mind (perhaps like yours) keeps coming back to the horribleness and wastefulness of it. Such tragedy and heartache. Such brokenness and despair. How shall we explain it?
I have often said about the sinfulness of mankind that depravity means that no one is as sinful as they could be, but that our sinfulness touches every part of our lives and leaves nothing in us unstained by sin. And it impacts all of us. That’s Paul’s point in Romans 3: “There is none righteous, not even one…all have turned aside…there is none who does good.” And we have been given yet another example of just how horrible sin is by this shooting.
What provokes someone to act this way? Evil actions come from evil hearts and evil hearts reflect evil desires. These desires germinate in our hearts and then produce the flower (weed?) of perversity and evil. That’s what the Savior’s half-brother affirms in James 1:14-15. And that’s why Sinclair Ferguson has written, “Evil deeds are the fruit of an evil heart. They are not an aberration from our true self but a revelation of it.” [Grace of Repentance, 23]
So what is the hope for today? (Or is there hope?)
In Romans 3, Paul talks about the violent manifestations of sin, saying about every unredeemed sinner,
“Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The first line is a quotation from Isaiah 59:7. However, the first verse of that chapter is a helpful reminder for us. It says, “the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.” The Lord is strong enough to produce salvation for any who come to Him in repentance. Isaiah’s point in chapters 57-59 has been to demonstrate that man cannot save himself — not even a Jew under the Abrahamic Covenant. He can’t save himself.
But God can save him! And God can save the worst of sinners. And the greatest of sufferers. He is able to save anyone.
Isaiah 59:16-19 tells us that there is no one to save and intercede for man, so God did (v. 16b). And He did this through the Redeemer who would come to Israel (v. 20). And this is His eternal promise (v. 21).
What Paul details in Romans 3 and Isaiah demonstrates in Isaiah 59 is all about us. We are all so depraved as to be completely incapable of doing anything righteous (anything that will glorify God) and completely incapable of saving ourselves or making ourselves righteous.
But God has taken pity on us and acted on our behalf! If you are a Christian, give thanks for this grace — even on this day of suffering. Humbly thank the Lord that not only were you spared from suffering from a violent attack, but that you were spared by His salvation from inflicting a violent attack on others.
Today is also a reminder that everyone in the world needs Jesus to save him. No one is good without Jesus. Everyone is capable of running to the place that this gunman went yesterday (read Rom. 3:15 again).
So God has given us a message to liberate people from their sinful inclinations. The message is that every man needs to repent, to turn away from his sin, and to ask God to free him from his sin. And the blood of Christ and the person of Christ living in us is able to liberate all of us from sin.
Perhaps you identify with the angry murderous heart that Paul spoke about in the above verses. Perhaps you see your life as one long trail of destroyed and miserable relationships, or perhaps you finally have seen that while you want peaceful relationships, you can’t produce them. Friend, there is hope for you today. The hope is not that you can fix yourself, but that if you confess your sin and ask God to forgive your sin and enable you to be obedient to Him, He will do just that. And you can begin to live peaceably, freed from this ungodly heart and ungodly desires.
That’s our hope on a day that feels hopeless — to give them the liberating and comforting message of the eternally saving gospel of Jesus Christ. There is sorrow today on earth. With Him, there is hope and joy in Heaven tomorrow.