The phrase "Thoughts and prayers for those in #sutherlandsprings" is something you will see a lot of on Twitter and other social media from well-meaning people who do not really know what to say when tragedy, like the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs happens.
One cynical actor tweeted, in response to the prayers tweeted by House speaker Paul Ryan "The murdered victims were in a Church. If prayers did anything, they'd still be alive". Then he went on to use an expletive to describe Speaker Ryan.
The unknown actor, who now is known for one of the worst tweets ever, later apologized.
Granted, it's hard to understand why God would allow a tragedy like this to happen, especially in a church. Our hearts break for the families and friends of those who were murdered in this wicked and cold-blooded attack.
However, the Bible does not promise anyone a pain-free life. In fact, Jesus Himself said, "In this world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33). Here is what I do know: these people that were gathered for worship at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, believed in and loved Jesus Christ.
Now they are in His presence, where there is "fullness of joy" and "pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11). All of their questions are answered; our questions will have to wait.
Consider the response of Joe and Claryce Holcombe, who lost nine family members during Sunday's horrific mass shooting.
The elderly couple lost their son, Bryan Holcombe, and his wife, Karla, in addition to their grandson, Marc Daniel Holcombe, as well as his baby daughter — and their great-granddaughter — Noah.
They also lost Crystal Holcombe, the wife of their grandson, John Holcombe, three of their great-grandchildren — Emily, Megan and Greg — and the unborn baby Crystal was carrying, who was reportedly due to be born in April; John Holcombe and two additional children survived.
Despite this unthinkable tragedy, Joe Holcombe 86, told Faithwire that he and his wife "are very close to God" and have not wavered in their faith as a result of Sunday's traumatic events.
"We're strong," he said before speaking of a future time when he believes he and his wife will see their family members again in heaven. "We'll be with Bryan and his wife and the whole family one of these days — and we look forward to that."
We talk about the afterlife, but perhaps we ought to call the life we are living right now "the before-life." This life, compared to the afterlife, is very short. What we do with Jesus determines where we will spend this afterlife.
These folks, worshipping at church last Sunday, are safely in the loving arms of Jesus Christ right now.
Originally posted Nov. 8 at Greg's Blog.
Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, with campuses in Riverside and Irvine, California.