Bombs explode in Boston, and we are afraid. Tornados wipe out portions of Oklahoma, and we are in shock. The Boy Scouts consider changing policy. The SCOTUS waits to rule on the legality of same-sex marriage. The chaos and craziness, the fear and worry are almost overwhelming. Think about it for a second, and life feels more than a little out of control.
Satan loves that feeling of panic. He thrives on the fear that causes your throat to constrict. He rejoices at the knot in your stomach.
But our Lord doesn’t. He steps into the explosions, the winds that blow over churches and hospitals and schools, the cultural malaise, the attempt to redefine the defined. He steps in and sets things straight. He steps in and the chaos becomes order, the fear becomes contentment, the worry becomes peace.
So pray for Boston. Pray for Oklahoma. Pray for our culture. But also know this: All these pale in comparison to our ultimate comfort, to our only hope, to Christ.
Read all of Pastor David Petersen’s sermon from September 16, 2001: “A Day of Penitence and Prayer in the wake of National Disaster.”
The battle rages on around and upon us. We contend with evil, struggle against the forces of darkness. Our comrades fall. Our resolves weaken. We grow weary of the strain as our hearts break within us again and again. Satan beckons us to the easy position of unbelief. It is so inviting to believe the devil’s lie that God is not true, that He has abandoned us, that we have to fix things for ourselves, strike out with equal violence and hatred, bomb their buildings, kill their children, continue the cycle. But the Word of God calls us to something higher: to love for our enemies, to mercy and decency. By His Grace, covered in the Innocent Blood He shed for us, forgiven and hoping for a better future, knowing peace with God in the midst of turmoil by the Sacrifice of His Son, we will not hate those who hate us! By the power of His love we will not wish damnation and suffering upon their children. For Our Lord gave His life also for them. For them, we will pray, even as our government brings to bear the full force of its fury, and executes its God-given power of the sword. Through it all, we will pray. And we will rest confident in the knowledge that God hears and answers the prayers of those who trust in Jesus.
For as bad as all this is, as uncertain as the future is, it will not last. The devil is the mastermind terrorist behind the attacks, behind the porno shops and drunkenness, behind the corruption that besets us on all sides. We fight against him and his demons. But he has already lost. He was defeated when the Lord of Life submitted to his reign to pay our ransom. The devil’s fight, this chaos, is but rearguard tactics fought by a retreating army. All the noise, all the violence, are but a last ditch effort at distraction by the father of lies. We are above it. We are removed from it by the mercy showered upon us in Christ, our only hope. He has died that we never will. And death and sin and hell have lost their sting. We have been found by the God of compassion. He does not bend all men to His iron will. He does not seek the death of those who follow false gods, but is moved by mercy and grace and would have all men repent and be saved. He does not condone murder or hatred. He sent His Son into our rebel camp. He wore our skin, became one of us. He lived this life of sadness, and was Himself the victim of violence and injustice so that we might at last be truly safe and free. We have been found by the Living God of Life who died, but who lives. The grave could not hold Him. The darkness could not blot Him out. Love is stronger than hate. Love has won the battle that counts, and we, His children, shall overcome.
Christ is our Lord, our Helper, our Fortress, our Rock, and our Captain. He is the Strength of the weak and the Consolation of the sorrowful. His Grace covers our sins, heals us, and sends us on the path of recovery. He is the Man for our times, the Prince of Peace who prepares things for you who bear His Name where moth and rust, and bombs and terrorists, do not, will not, cannot destroy. The Light still shines. His Word still comforts. The Holy Body and Precious Blood still feed souls in need. No man knows the future or what it holds, save this absolute certainty: He is coming back! He has not abandoned us. The battle soon will end, once and for all, and your tears shall be dried to fall no more.
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. O America! God shed His grace on thee, indeed.