Last Sunday, in Indonesia’s second largest city of Surabaya, three churches were bombed by one family. At one location a father, Dita Oepriarto, detonated a car bomb. At another church, his two sons drove a motorcycle into the church courtyard and detonated their explosives. And at a third location, the mother and two daughters (ages 9 and 12), detonated their suicide vests. Besides these six souls–deceived by the wiles of Satan–perishing, another twelve souls entered into eternity.
According to reports, this family was just like any other family. They lived an upper-middle class lifestyle, visited their Christian neighbors, and did nothing that would cause anyone to suspect they were planning on killing as many Christians as they could. One of their neighbors said, “There was nothing strange about the family, they were like other devout Muslim families,” (AP). Another man who lived close by said, “We really didn’t see it coming,” (AP).
Eighteen people walking around on Saturday, are now either in a place of glorious bliss in the presence of God whom they loved in Christ or they are in eternal torment–still in the presence of the God whom they despised. Twelve of them never saw it coming. They had no clue that the day of death and judgment was at hand.
James wrote that life is a mist; it is a vapor that is here for but a moment. This is your time, but it isn’t a long time if we think about it. In light of eternity, it’s not even a blip on the radar. You and I are mists; we’re vapors; we’re smoke. We’re here one minute and gone the next if we are speaking in an eternal perspective. Charles Spurgeon said, “Unless we purposely live with a view to the next world, we cannot make much out of our present existence,” (Spurgeon Study Bible). That’s the perspective we need. We need an eternal perspective.
Over forty other people are injured due to the attacks at the churches. I can just about guarantee that none of them expected to be lying in the hospitals in pain or maimed or have their life suddenly and undeniably changed because of a suicide bombing. Their life-long plans did not include paralysis or disfigurement or chronic pain. Many will be angry. Many scared. Many confused. My prayer is that these who were hurt will respond in faith, and not just some flimsy faith, but a steadfast faith.
It is easy to say we have faith. It is altogether different to have to use that faith. Think of your faith as a bridge. You are on your way from point A to point B: say earth to heaven. That’s a long journey for most of us; it typically takes years. You make a profession of faith, and so the road is laid down. The problem is that there is nothing to undergird the road. There are no piers, no bearings, no beams. You can walk on it for a while, but soon you can go nowhere. Until beams and bearings and piers are built to hold the bridge steadfast you’re stuck. That’s what steadfast means. It means to remain under, to hold you up so you can go forward. Trials are the builders of faith’s piers, bearings, and beams.
It is so easy to ask why we must face these trials. We may never know. But the question is not why, but what. What is God doing in the midst of these trials and pains and heartaches? Trials come, and what we tend to see as our enemy actually is what is making us stronger. It strengthens our faith. It strengthens our resolve. But we have to let it do what God has designed it to do. If we quit—if we walk away—we won’t become whole. That’s what trials are. Trials are that bitter medicine that God uses to make us whole.
So in the midst of these trials, I pray that these people will run to Jesus. In the midst of your trials, I pray that you too will run to Jesus, who is our great example, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God,” (Hebrews 12:2, ESV). “So,” I pray, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom,” (Psalm 90:12, ESV).