The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. Psalm 145:9
According to this verse, the Lord is always good. We see things in small pictures, but God sees the big, beautiful pictures that He is creating.
The week of the shooting in Charleston, my heart broke. For the past twelve years I have lived in South Carolina. It’s where I call home away from home. To hear that something like this occurred just a few hours away from my home wrecked me.
As I watched the news, I thought that if this is what the world is becoming then I don’t want to be here to witness all this chaos. I was reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20, NIV)
My heart is saddened for those that were killed. They welcomed this boy into their congregation with joy and gladness. Because of the color of their skin, he didn’t see the need for them to be alive anymore, so he took lives that were not meant to be taken. It’s difficult to see the big picture in this. It’s difficult to see God in this. But that is the good news; He is in this and has always been. What this boy meant for evil, division, and hatred, there was good.
It fills me with fury. How is any of this good?
The Scripture verses “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Mathew 5:44-45) and also “Beloved let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) came almost immediately to mind.
Through this time of tragedy, for the first time, I have seen people unite in such unspeakable ways. With tears in my eyes as I am writing this, there is so much joy in me that Christ has been magnified in such a huge way. When He tells us to love, he doesn’t list options for who we are to extend that grace and love to. In the culture we live in, often we forget about the grace and mercy that the good Lord daily showers on us. It’s so beautiful to see a community united in the face of tragedy. This is something I have not seen previously. The young man appeared in court. In the courtroom, just days after the senseless shooting, a video shows each of the victim’s families say, “I forgive you.”
God is in control. I even heard one person say, “We would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters the most…Christ.”
Likewise, there is a similar video depicting a woman in Kenya whose husband was killed by radical Islamists. Sarah Ambetsu shared that she was shot in the leg, her husband, also the pastor of the church, was shot in the heart. She sees the need for forgiveness. I truly believe that this spirit of forgiveness is from the Lord. In her heart, she knew that he belonged to God and she is at peace about it. It is so unimaginable and a diversion from what culture tells us to do. Sarah had similar words to say of the men who killed her husband, “I always pray one day God can change their hearts and they get saved and they can become the biggest servants of the Lord.”
No bitterness, no anger, just such sweet dependence on our sovereign God.
That is such a true example of grace upon grace. Because of the grace that has been shown to them through Christ, in both circumstances, they are able to extend that to a person who hatefully ended the lives of their loved ones. I pray that even in our own lives we will not combat evil with evil, but evil with the love of Christ.
As an intern for VOM, I’m learning so much about God’s big picture and forgiveness. So often we look at things from our own small perspective, but then we have to repent and see that He is powerful. He is not limited in the things that He does or will do. It makes us stop looking at ourselves and look to the Heavens at Him. I think to myself at times, ‘His mercies are new every morning and His grace is enough.’ I am so thankful for both of these reminders by the community in Charleston and also Sarah Ambetsu. God is good.
Oluwatosin S. served this summer as a VOM intern in the Young Adults & Conferences Department. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, she moved to the United States with her family when she was 8 years old. She will be a senior this fall at Lander University in Greenwood, SC.