Without making a point of their sexuality, this post is being written in the days shortly following the Orlando Nightclub shooting. This post, full of grief and sadness at the 50 lives that have been senselessly taken away, is written to encourage those caught up in this tragedy, done all in the name of ISIS– of Islam.
In the face of such a tragedy, it seems like ISIS– like satan– has overcome. During such a time of darkness, and death, it becomes imperative that we look, not to the seeming hopelessness of the situation, as if Christ is not present; but rather, look to Jesus, seeking these things: what we know He has done, what we can see Him doing, now, and what He has promised to do, in the future.
During some of the darkest times in history– and even in our own lives– it becomes almost impossible for the Believer to sense Jesus’ Presence in the whirlwind of the storms one is facing. Even David, called “a man after God’s own heart” by Samuel in 1 Samuel 13:14, cried out, “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble” (Psalm 10:1, NIV)?
But, even in the worst days, David recalled Jesus’ faithfulness: “In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.“
(Psalm 22:4-5, NIV)
Like David, Believers can look at this tragedy, and recall Jesus’ faithfulness, during other times of tragedy.
Over two years ago, something equally as tragic and wicked as this shooting was done. Also in the night time, a large group of Boko Haram terrorists drove into the village of Chibok, Nigeria, and razed Chibok Government Secondary School, a boarding school for both male and female students; yet, at the time of this tragedy, only female students were found.
Woken in the middle of the night, these girls– 276 in total– were terrorized, ordered at gunpoint into the beds of trucks, and driven into the Sambisa Forest, of Northern Nigeria. Their terrorist organization, led by a man named Abubukar Shekau, also pledged allegiance to ISIS, calling itself ISWAP (“Islamic State’s West African Province”). 57 young women initially escaped; 219 were reported missing, for two years.
Shortly after, wearing and parading the color red, the #BringBackOurGirls Movement was formed, causing an international stir and raising support from celebrities, worldwide.
The news, unfortunately, became worse and worse. Boko Haram captured major towns, seizing most of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States; reports of children being sent into war were reported, alongside 2-3 million people fleeing towns in Northern Nigeria, running for their, and their families’, lives. Even worse, reports from Nigeria’s government, stating that negotiations for the Chibok girls’ release were being had, came up false, with Abubukar Shekau stating that the Chibok girls had been “married off.”
Towns were ravaged; Displaced People’s Camps became corrupt; yet, in all things, Christ was– and is– moving, behind the scenes.
The story of 3 different young women, who escaped Boko Haram, and are now studying at a
Christian private school in the United States, encouraged the world, and brought glory to Jesus. Sa’a’s story did the same, highlighting the courage Christ gave her to escape, and continue living. Reports of social programs, created by Christians, and aimed at teaching the poor, Northern-Nigerian Muslim children in the community, were reported as well.
And, when it seemed that all Hope was lost, and that praying for the Chibok girls, the Boko Haram insurgency, and Nigeria as a whole was useless, Jesus’ Hand at work started to become clearly visible. The Nigerian army was re-assembled, and re-energized; and the International Joint Task Force was created from countries surrounding Nigeria. In months, battle by battle, Northern-Nigerian towns and villages were won back– and while the magnitude of their victories are debated, it is a
true sign of progress.
Then, on May 18th, 2016, one Chibok girl was found/rescued, near the edge of the Sambisa Forest. Amina Ali Nkeki, age 19, walked out of the dense Sambisa forest with a man, who claimed to be her husband, as well as a very young child she had given birth to.
The true story about her path to freedom varies in reports. But, the fact that one of the Chibok girls– one of the 219 young women who disappeared into the night, over two years ago– came out alive, uninjured, and with a child, stunned and overjoyed the community.
218 young women, as well as hundreds of other captives, still remain in captivity, and Boko Haram still has yet to be completely defeated. Yet, there is, and always will be, Hope– Hope in who Jesus is, and in His Promises. Isaiah 62, from the onset, has been a Promise from Jesus: that, in His Way, and His Timing, each and every one of these girls will taste freedom and redemption from the captivity they know– that “the nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. …But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married” (Isaiah 62:2, 4b, NIV).
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, …though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habbakuk 3:17-18, NIV). Though this story is far from over, Christ is far from giving up on it; and, in the face of His faithfulness, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20, NIV).
Christ did not “make” the Chibok Schoolgirl Kidnapping happen; neither did He “make” the Orlando Nightclub Massacre occur, whether the victims were homosexual or not. Men did.
Have you lost faith in mankind? In the face of such evil, depraved events as the Orlando Nightclub Massacre, have you lost faith in the goodness of others? People can, and will, fail you– failing in horrible, sometimes wounding, ways. But, Jesus Christ will never fail you. No: He is faithful. And, in the midst of such a time as this, we can look to Chibok, and to our own lives, for proof of the fact that Christ has, is, and will be working “…all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV).
Do you know Jesus?
Jesus, near the time He was crucified, told His disciples something that both shook, and intimidated, His disciples.
“Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:32-33, ESV)
This, no doubt, shook His disciple’s hearts; not only did Jesus know that His disciples, struck with fear, would leave Him. He knew that every human being would leave Him, leaving Him to face the terrors of His own death, all alone of any human comfort.
Jesus knew, more than anybody else, that every human being fails. But, He showed all on Calvary that He does not fail, nor will He ever.
Paying the debt of every sin ever committed by dying on the cross, Christ rose again.
Who/what are you putting your faith in, today? Meet the One who never failed, but is Mighty to Save, here.
Please pray for…
– The Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. No matter what their lifestyles looked like before they passed, 49 people have left behind countless men, women, and children. Please pray that Christ would meet them in their grief, and that these people would come to see Jesus’ Goodness and Grace, and would know Him as their Lord and Savior.
– The 218 Chibok school girls who are still missing. Please pray, as Christ continues to work and move in this situation, that the Chibok schoolgirls, those surrounding the Chibok schoolgirls, and the hundreds of other men and women who have been captured, would not lose Hope.
– The Church at large. Please pray that, in this horrible time, Jesus would move in and through His Church, to show the world that He is the One, True, Only God– and the Only way to having a Personal Relationship with God the Father (John 14:6).
“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:8). You are in our prayers, #Orlando.