The first thing I saw this morning was a news item detailing how a two-year old had been dragged away by an alligator at a Disney resort. No body has been recovered. Immediately I imagined the grief of the vacationing family, perhaps on the dream trip of a lifetime. They never could have EVER imagined such a horrific tragedy befalling them. When coupled with the horror of the parents, friends, and loved ones who learned that their dearly loved children were gunned down by a madman in a nightclub just a couple of days earlier, death and destruction seemed very near. I began the day by crying. And I cried again when I discussed these events with a friend.

The world is fallen. Sin and death reign here. None of us know when either of these types of tragedies will befall us. And they might. The world has always been a dangerous place. We are in control of nothing. In spite of our misleading mantras about positive thoughts and action plans, we really aren’t in control.

What would we do without Jesus? His arms are open to embrace all who come to Him. When we’ve turned to Him in repentance of our many failings and shortcomings and mistakes, believing Him to be the Son of God, the One who died for us and rose from the dead, He welcomes us into God’s family. From that moment on, we know that we will live forever with Him in eternity, even if we suffer death by alligator or a madman’s gun. We can go anywhere in safety, regardless, when we have Jesus in our lives, knowing we will instantly be with Him in Paradise, no matter how our lives end.

God also promises to work all things together for good for those He has welcomed into His family. So if we are the grieving parents of children who have been thus killed, we can know that God will orchestrate these horrific circumstances to bring the kind of growth into our lives that makes us better people, that He will bring some kind of good out of this worst experience of our lives, and that He will comfort us here on earth and when we see Him face to face in eternity.

Without Him, we don’t have the peace of these promises. We have no certainty at all, no hope. Thank God that He sent His Son, knowing what a horrendous mess we’d make of this place, knowing how difficult it is to live in a world where children die of horrific causes, whether madmen or alligators. God is merciful, so He Himself came in the form of His Son, lived here, experienced this, and then allowed Himself to be killed by madmen that He might redeem our mess. Thanks be to God for His mercy and His faithfulness.