Be Prepared to Suffer Due to Evil

Burnt Out St. John's ChurchSome are angry at God for letting bad things happen. Others believe that a compassionate and loving God couldn’t possibly allow such things, therefore there is no God. These folks have either ignored military history or not studied it. Commanders in war have to make decisions that they know will put troops in peril. Sometimes, they have to order troops into situations where there know the results are going to be bad, but still, it’s necessary for the greater mission.

A great example is the Battle of Pegasus Bridge (Operation Deadstick), which preceded the Normandy landings. British commandos air-dropped to secure two bridges and hold them against any counterattacks until reinforcements could arrive. They were going against a numerically superior force with much of the tangible assets on the side of the opposition. Those commandos knew that those who tried to figure the likelihood of success of a given mission had calculated that it was far more likely that the commandos would fail than succeed. After all, failure could mean you kept your force intact but the Germans blew up the bridges. It could mean being wiped out. In order to stop that from happening, they would have to strike quickly, precisely, and hope quite a few things went their way. Why did the Allies order and attempt such a mission? Those bridges were critical in order to protect British forces that were part of the rest of the Normandy invasion. If the Germans retained control, they could have rolled tanks against light infantry, crushing them. If the Germans blew the bridges, that would have cut off the 6th Airborne Division from the rest of the Allies. The mission was worth the risk. And so the British commandos were dispatched. They succeeded, but it could have just as easily gone the other way.

Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword.  – 1 Samuel 22:18-19, ESV

When David was on the run, priests at Nob helped him and his men. They were doing the righteous thing. The problem is a man named Doeg saw them helping David. He reported the help to King Saul and Saul came to exact his punishment. Nearly everyone in Nob was slaughtered. Why did they die? They died because they did the right thing and an evil man wanted to commit evil because of it. Why didn’t God stop it? For one thing, it put Abiathar the priest in David’s camp (he was the one that got away) along with the priestly ephod he carried. David was able to discern an answer from God using the ephod, and we see later than at least one of the descendants of Abiathar was an official in David’s kingdom. We aren’t given any more details than this, but I’m sure that the day-to-day interaction between Abiathar and the men of David’s camp was important and God used those encounters. God brought good from evil.

God isn’t necessarily going to stop evil that comes our way. We need to accept that this is the reality of the fallen world we live in. When God permits evil to come our way, we should be ready for it. We should be prepared to suffer due to the actions and intentions of evil men. I don’t think it’s any accident that Jesus told us we would be counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake, nor that His apostles would repeat the message in their own enlightened words. We must understand and believe that suffering is more than just a possibility, but a probability, if we seek to follow after Jesus. Anyone who preaches a message other than this is ignoring key pieces of Scripture.

When you confront evil, do it with the intent of grasping after God. Let your love for Jesus, your desire to be with Him, be so overwhelming that there is no hesitation in facing any suffering that may come your way. There are many in the Church who deal with this situation in their lives every day. Those of us here in the US don’t have a good understanding of suffering for our Savior’s sake. We deal with minor things, little inconveniences. They put their lives and the lives of their families on the line, simply for believing in Jesus. Let us be like our brothers and sisters in Christ who daily walk in that reality. Let us be ready to suffer for Christ, whatever it is, and praise Him for asking us to do so.

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