Commenting on the shooting that claimed 26 lives at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, this weekend, Illinois Lutheran Pastor Hans Fiene, above, said:
When those saints of First Baptist Church were murdered yesterday, God wasn’t ignoring their prayers. He was answering them.
In a piece written for the right-wing website The Federalist, he explains his reasoning thus:
‘Deliver us from evil’. Millions of Christians throughout the world pray these words every Sunday morning. While it doesn’t appear that the Lord’s Prayer is formally a part of the worship services at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, I have no doubt that members of that congregation have prayed these words countless times in their lives.
When we pray these words, we are certainly praying that God would deliver us from evil temporally – that is, in this earthly life. Through these words, we are asking God to send his holy angels to guard us from those who would seek to destroy us with knives and bombs and bullets. It may seem, on the surface, that God was refusing to give such protection to his Texan children. But we are also praying that God would deliver us from evil eternally.
Through these same words, we are asking God to deliver us out of this evil world and into his heavenly glory, where no violence, persecution, cruelty, or hatred will ever afflict us again.
In fact, police say that Devin Patrick Kelley, the deceased gunman who carried out the attack, was not motivated by either racial or religious prejudice.
Because of Christ’s saving death and resurrection, death no longer has any power over those who belong to him through faith. So the enemies of the gospel can pour out their murderous rage upon Christians, but all they can truly accomplish is placing us into the arms of our savior … So when a madman with a rifle sought to persecute the faithful at First Baptist Church on Sunday morning, he failed.
Instead, police hinted that the shooting was motivated by a domestic dispute, while noting that Kelley’s mother-in-law attended the church. Police also said that they found that Kelley had recently sent “threatening” text messages to his mother-in-law.
Fiene went on:
Just like those who put Christ to death, and just like those who have brought violence to believers in every generation, this man only succeeded in being the means through which God delivered his children from this evil world into an eternity of righteousness and peace.
And he concluded:
Those who persecute the church and those who mock Christians for trusting in Almighty God rather than Almighty Government may believe that the bloodshed in Texas proves the futility of prayer.
But we believers see the shooting in Texas as proof of something far different – proof that Christ has counted us worthy to suffer dishonor for his name and proof that no amount of dishonor, persecution, or violence can stop him from answering our prayer to deliver us from evil.