Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How Do We Work Through Violent Acts of Murder?

As a minister of the gospel since 2001, I have ministered in some difficult situations over the years. I have ministered to a family with a double murder of a 12-year-old girl and her mother by the girl’s half-brother, a 4-year-old beaten to death a week before Christmas by his mother’s boyfriend, the murder-suicide of my aunt by her husband, and the murder of my cousin’s father and step-mother by their half-brother. These acts all seem brutal and depraved even senseless. At times the sovereignty of God provides great comfort, but other times the sovereignty of God is difficult for us. It was the depravity of man’s acts that drove Charles Bradley Templeton, a former friend of Billy Graham and evangelist, to be an agnostic. I want to remind us of what God has told us in his word. Here are four truths that have helped me during these times:

  • Believe that Mankind remains broken and depraved, apart from Christ Jesus.- The total depravity of man is seen throughout the Bible. Man’s heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). The Bible also teaches us that man is born dead in transgression and sin (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Ephesians 2:1-5). We want to excuse violent, depraved acts of murder with mental health, drugs, or demonic influence. We don’t want to think that anyone, especially us, is capable of such horrific depraved acts, but the reality remains we are fully capable of committing depraved acts of murder and much worse all on our own!
  • Be Comforted that God alone understands your emotional trauma and suffering.- God’s son had to endure the excruciating pain of being crucified on the cross. God the Father and Holy Spirit had to endure the trauma and suffering of Jesus the son being violently executed by men who hated him. God alone understands the emotional pain you endure.
  • Be renewed through God’s sustaining because His grace is enough.- The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. This thorn kept him humble all the days of his life. In many ways a tragic murder is a very humbling experience, the feeling of shock and disorientation. We are reminded we are not in control of our lives nor this world. Then the grief sets in, it feels much like a thorn in the heart. Paul said this, 
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –I Corinthians 12:9-10
  • Don’t move on, move forward.- As a pastor and GriefShare leader, I often hear the stupid things people say to the grieving. One of those statements is “just move on.” I will be the first to admit, it is quite possible to get stuck in grief, but after an event like one’s life changes for the rest of our days. We can move forward taking the good memories of our loved ones, their examples of good they modeled, and continue their legacy. One who has suffered loss to this degree is forever changed.

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