What then are we to say about these things?
July 3, 2022, 7:00 PM

Romans 8:31 – What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?

Are you finding the news overwhelming? The headlines of the past month provide a snapshot of a world in deep chaos: ten Black adults ruthlessly shot at Tops Supermarket in our own city by a self-proclaimed white supremist, nineteen children and two adults shot at their school in Texas, the ongoing and deadly war in Ukraine, our increasingly unstable global economy, and the continual mutation of the coronavirus into new variants. I can barely stand to look at the tragedy on our prayer list. My heart is deeply grieved, and I detect an increased level of anxiety amongst many of you as well. No doubt, traumatic news impacts our spirits and confronts our faith.

Do things really happen for a reason? One difficult aspect of the Christian faith is a tendency to default to determinism. God is in charge, right? So we want to trust in the promises of God even when we can see no evidence that those promises of comfort and safety are being worked out. What does our faith say in the face of so much pain and tragedy and loss?

Determinism misses God’s work in Jesus. It says that God dictates everything that happens, including the tragic. This type of determinism can be very problematic in the face of pain and suffering. It’s grounded in the belief that God is sovereign and omnipotent, so God must be ordaining tragic events for some higher purpose. But wait, that’s not the God we hear about on Sunday morning. How do we reconcile a loving God with the events of our world?

We turn to the incarnation. The God we serve abdicates determinism to be with us. In setting sovereignty and omnipotence aside, God willingly chose to become a human being: who went to the cross so that we might grasp God’s radical compassion and empathy. The incarnation speaks to a God who stands with us because God in Christ truly understands what it is like to stare into the gaping dark void of death and be upheld by divine love. God’s love does not leave us in despair, but pulls us up into new life, again and again. The good news of the Gospel is that pain, struggle, trauma and even death are not the end of the story when Jesus is involved. God is not determining anything, but inhabiting everything, including you and me.

The Spirit of truth wraps us in a loving embrace and provides us with hope. Our hope is in a God who works all things together, no matter how tragic, to bring forth good. As God’s beloved, let us be the good to heal the tragedy and confront the racism of the Tops shooting. Let us stand in solidarity with Buffalo’s Black community knowing that God is for us.


 Rev. Becky