Texas, Faith, and Grief

IrmaMy wife, Dawn, recently had an odd experience that featured Texas. When I say she had an experience, I mean the type of experience where you are hearing things explained while you are in that in-between place. I often have those type of experiences when I am just falling asleep, or just waking up (the in-between state), and hear a few snippets about something. I’ve learned over the years, and so has Dawn, to grab on to the things we hear at that time so that we remember them. When she gets these snippets, they are often about things that give us opportunity to look at current events, even awful events, in a slightly different way. I’m certainly not saying that she gets the full picture or details of things, but the things she gets often give us alternative views to ponder as we look at the world around us.

Last Saturday, in an in-between moment, she got several different snippets about the South, and one on a related note about Texas. Obviously, Texas has come into the national consciousness because of the awful events that occurred in Sutherland Springs, but that happened a day later. Texas was not in our thoughts last week, and although we live in South Florida, we don’t live in the South. Any true southerner could easily testify to that fact.

The first thing she heard was that there is a big ball of anger growing in the South. Then she heard that the Lord had tried to put out some of that anger through the floods that have been hitting Texas over the past couple years, and especially through Hurricane Harvey this year.

When she told me what she had heard, I was puzzled. I don’t view floods as a pressure relief valve. If anything, I would think that they exacerbate anger because they threaten lives and do lots of damage to property. But as I thought this, I had a clear picture of what happened during Harvey. I remembered the news stories about the people of Texas helping each other; I remembered the Cajun Navy arriving to help. I remembered how people cheered each other on to help others; and then I understood.

We all know the anger that is growing in our nation. There is a clash of world views taking place that is separating families, friends, and neighbors. If the news reports are accurate, we just saw a sitting United States senator attacked by a normally well-respected and rational neighbor for his political positions. This past summer we saw congressmen (and those tasked to help them) shot for their political affiliation while practicing for a congressional baseball game. These things are not normal. But there is a growing anger in our country. It is building, and as a result, some will act out of their anger, targeting perceived threats to their wellbeing and their beliefs.

Of course, this same clash of world views is happening in Texas and the South, just like virtually everywhere else in our country. But the floods that Texas experienced certainly quelled that anger, if even for a brief moment. When I saw the news clips of people risking their lives to rescue those who were trapped in the floods, I noted that no one was asking for anyone’s worldview, their political beliefs, or their position on hot button issues before deciding to help. People of different ethnic and religious backgrounds helped each other. People who had different political views pitched in to rescue those who were in danger. They recognized their shared humanity, and reached out to help. For that brief moment the ball of anger was diminished.

As Dawn came out of that experience, she had one more snippet. She saw into the spirit realm and was shown an evil being. She knew this being’s job is to stir things up in Texas, and cause confusion whenever Christians there are wrestling and praying over major issues. If there is a threat that Christians might be approaching a breakthrough against a stronghold, such as the growing anger, his job is to do everything he can to plug the breach those folks are causing. As she was coming out of that experience, she knew intercessors needed to target this being because of the damage he is capable of doing.

Since we recognize that God often uses these in-between snippets to stir up prayer, we prayed about these things even as we discussed them. As a result, when we heard about the awful things that happened in Sutherland Springs, we couldn’t help but believe that the Lord had shown us some spiritual things behind the scenes. If ever we wanted to see behind the scenes, this was one such time. The plain facts were overwhelming. A close-knit church family lost twenty-six of its members and friends, including men, women, and children, to a violently angry man who had lost any remnants of his compassion, or his sanity. It is difficult to contemplate such horror and bloodshed without being overwhelmed by the tragedy.

Throughout this week, I have been praying for the people of Sutherland Springs, asking that the God of all comfort meet them. At the same time, because of the behind-the-scenes glimpse, I have been wondering what that little community of faith was doing that so panicked the spiritual agents of darkness that they felt it necessary to move against them. I have been remembering what Dawn heard on Saturday. Whenever Christians are effectively wrestling against evil by living for righteousness, there are evil spiritual forces stirred against them. This idea of wrestling is biblical terminology for living the opposite of whatever negative behavior is on display. In the case of growing anger and separation, it would usually manifest by obvious expressions of love and peace in the community. So I have to ask, “What life was this little community of believers releasing that they were such a threat?” And of course, it would not just be them. What life is the surrounding Christian community releasing that this confusion and pain was released into their midst?

These questions have helped me grapple with eternal truths during this week of sadness. My questions have informed my thoughts in a comforting way. If my understanding is anywhere near the mark, then these twenty-six people are not just victims of a senseless act of violence. They, and other Christians surrounding them, were actually such a threat to Satan’s plans that he had to stop them. In essence, they were spiritual warriors on the front line of this particular battle, and even though we lost them on earth, they were welcomed into the Lord’s heavenly embrace with a heroes welcome.

Of course, even with this understanding, I am still sad. I still grieve for all those who were lost, and especially the children whose lives were just starting. I grieve for those who are overwhelmed by pain and loss, and will continue to pray that the Lord meet them and help them. But if what I suspect about that Christian community is true, there will be hundreds, and even thousands of those from the believing community who will be reaching out to support them in their time of need. That knowledge does help at some level.

“And we know that God works with those who love Him so that all things result in good;
He works with those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

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