Evil people can defy God's plan for them

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In his years of active ministry, evangelist Billy Graham is known to have approached his work with a newspaper in one hand and a Bible in the other. It's a good combination because without the latter it's impossible to make sense of the world around us. Sometimes it's difficult to make sense of the world with God's Word in front of us.

That's not to say that God's Word is in any way inadequate, it's just an impulse to see the enormity of world events and forget to consider the providence of God. And the headlines of late do very little to bring comfort, especially when those headlines detail the carnage of the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas.

It was a heavy headline to hold Monday morning as the list of dead and injured steadily climbed to earn the designation of the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. Compounding the weight was the initial report that there had yet to be a motive behind the killing, but to be honest what is such an act but evil, regardless of what creed, banner or affiliation it is performed under.

I write this column during the investigation, and I'm sure that more information will come to light as to this killer's motives, but I do feel there are a couple of conclusions that we, as believers, can cling to as we navigate a world experiencing what seems like a chronic series of tragedies.

First, the weight of God's love and providence will always outweigh the depths of humanity's depravity. Wrong does not win in the end. It will never hold dominion over our world. Our world is reined by God who, Scripture tells us, will never abandon us.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Second, our world is full of sin-sick people, and we are not spared interaction with them. This means that evil people can defy God's plan for them. This is a scary thought for those who have placed their entire trust in the things they can control, but those who are seeking God's guidance in our lives need not fear those who would do us harm. David, the Old Testament king, knew this and wrote using the imagery of a shepherd.

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

It's heartbreaking to me to imagine the level of grief experienced by the families and friends of the more than 50 lives that were lost Sunday night and Monday. I hope that you will add them to your prayers as they navigate the emotions of anger and grief in the coming days, weeks and years.

I also hope that you pray for discernment as we as believers weigh the headlines against Scripture. I hope that the result is that you find God's plan for humanity full of grace toward others and obedience to our Heavenly Father.

Email Jamie H. Wilson at faithmatterssumter@gmail.com