Tragedy has struck a town close to home, Hesston, KS. I have friends who live there, some who went to school there, some who once worked there, and some who still work there. And I drive through Hesston every time I go to my parent’s house.
When something like this happens to such a small, conservative town, and so close to home, all I can think is; “How is this even possible?” How could anyone so cruelly rip souls from this world? In truth, the man who killed employees at Excel and wounded other unfortunate passersby had first ripped apart his own soul. I take no comfort in knowing his eternal resting place, but I pray that those lives he took are now resting in Jesus. Not all those lost may have been ready for eternity, but in this time of mourning and reflection, I am encouraged that those still alive, those who made it through, still have a chance to call on Jesus to save them from their sins, take away their fear, and fill them with His light.
There is no other hope I have, or can offer, upon this earth other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He gives hope to the weary, because in Him there is life; death was not a victor over Him, and it will not be a victor over any who have believed on His name.
The company I work for had a company-wide meeting this morning, where we were briefed on the tragedy that happened at Excel and were encouraged to pray for Hesston and talk to any of our supervisors if we felt the need. Before the close of the meeting, I and all of my coworkers bowed our heads as Josh, the head of HR, prayed for the employees at Excel, their families, and all those who have been affected. When he finished praying, Austin, our marketing director, gave a closing statement of encouragement and thoughts to ponder throughout the day, and this is what I took away from that closing statement.
Some of my coworkers attended a meeting at Excel on Monday of this week, where there was discussion about future plans for both companies. Something that came up in that meeting was how long we have been doing business with Excel; our business relationships spans 38 years. So, knowing the relationship we have with that company, and thinking of that company now, knowing what has happened, sets life in perspective: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit,” yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:13-14) Life is so short, life is so precious, and none of us are guaranteed to cross the next street. We all have a 100% chance of death, but we do not have to be afraid of it. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the payment for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2) I [Jesus] have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)… There is victory in Jesus, a reason to live, and freedom from fear of death.
After a tragedy like this, some people get PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), but many people get PTG (Post-traumatic Growth). To build on this point, Austin quoted a scripture that has its roots in the story of Joseph in Genesis; As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. (Genesis 50:20a) Though darkness tries to drown out the light, the light can still rise by the grace of God.
The story of Joseph in Genesis tells how he was ripped away from his comfortable life and his family and forced to be a slave. But in his servitude, Joseph served with fervor and cheer, and God granted him favor in the sight of those in authority over him. Joseph was later thrown into prison for no fault of his own, but God continued to bless him, even through that hardship, and eventually raised him up to be a great leader in Egypt. And from his position of leadership, God used Joseph to save Egypt and his family; the same family that sold him into slavery.
When bad things happen, we each have a choice, to either crawl up within ourselves and build walls around us, or to grow stronger in faith and stronger in purpose. May this tragedy be one that makes us stronger and not more fearful, because we know we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and He already paid the greatest price to give us freedom from sin and eternal life in Him.
As the meeting ended and everyone dispersed to their work stations, a song started playing through my head: Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson.
Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away our sin.
Behold the Lamb of God, the life and light of men.
Behold the Lamb of God Who died and rose again.
Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away our sin.
Broken hearts-behold our broken hearts-
Fallen far-we need You-
Behold the Lamb of God.
Son of God-Emmanuel-
Son of Man-we need You-
Behold the Lamb; the hope of man.
Behold the Lamb of God.
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
If you are fearful today and in need of hope, call out to Jesus. It sounds so simple to cry out to Him and believe on His name, but it is the hardest thing in the world to admit that you don’t have all the answers. Life does not always make sense, and neither does death, but through Christ, death no longer has to be seen as a tragedy, but as a step into a beautiful eternity with Jesus.
I pray that any who read this may gain the same perspective and hope as I through faith in Jesus Christ.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5)
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14)