Tragedy has struck an American high school again. A teenager described as an outcast at a suburban Cleveland campus shot one student dead and wounded four others yesterday. Two are in critical condition this morning. T. J. Lane apparently targeted a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table. After the shooting he was arrested near his car a half-mile away, according to the FBI. Authorities have closed Chardon High School today and plan a news conference later this morning.
Why did this happen? We will learn Lane’s motives, but we already know the ultimate cause: Satan. Jesus warned us that “he was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44), an enemy who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). If he could attack a righteous man like Job (Job 1:11, 2:7) and the sinless Son of God (Matthew 4:1), none of us are immune from his hatred.
What do we do when he assaults us, physically or spiritually?
During this Lenten season, we’re focusing each day on a different “fear not” in Scripture. Today’s assurance comes from the time of Hezekiah, one of the greatest kings in Jewish history (2 Chronicles 31:21). Despite his godly leadership, “after all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:1) Assyria was the global superpower of the day, while Judah was a tiny nation with no way to defeat this enemy, something like Poland before the Nazi/Soviet invasion of 1939. Would the king flee or surrender?
Not at all. He told his military officers, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him” (v. 7). What was the result of Hezekiah’s faith? “The Lord sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king.” After he withdrew, he was killed by his own sons (v. 21).
You and I are besieged this morning by an enemy so powerful that we have no strength to defeat him. Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Yesterday he found five students in Ohio. Today he may find us.
But our enemy is a defeated foe. If we turn to our Lord as soon as we are tempted, the Holy Spirit will give us strength to defeat him (1 Corinthians 10:13). If we give our physical challenges to the Great Physician, he will redeem them for his glory and our good (Romans 8:28). And one day our mortal enemy will be “thrown into the lake of burning sulfur” where he will be “tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). Pastor Greg Laurie was right: The next time Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.