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Jaya, my little girl, goes to bed every night at about 7:30 PM. Last night I had a sugar craving so I made myself some double chocolate brownies. The smell permeated our flat. It was a calm restful night for the Loudin family. Jonah had eaten and was sleeping. Jaya was in her bed, safe and warm. As I came out of Jaya’s room I was thinking about my brownies, but I never made it to the kitchen. Instead, I stopped in the living room and stood in dread at the scene.

Rolando Mendoza, a former Manila Police officer, had taken 25 Hong Kong tourists hostage. Colette and I were not prepared to watch the scene, as it would unfold.  At 7:25 PM bullets riveted the inside of the bus and sprayed the windows. Then, five minutes later, the bus driver escaped and claimed everyone remaining on the bus was dead. At 8:41 PM the gunman was subdued and killed by Manila officers. But only after he mercilessly and randomly shot and killed 8 Hong Kong citizens.

How do we make sense of this? The Newspapers this morning exhibit the same kind of chaos that we saw last night on live television. No one knows what to say really or how to resolve the mayhem. Blame has been laid at the feet of the Manila Police Force. From the Hong Kong government officials to the Facebook frenzies, people talk as if the nation of the Philippines is at fault itself.

I haven’t read an article yet (and there are nine articles covering the incident in the Standard Newspaper alone) in which Rolando Mendoza is the prime suspect. Journalists are writing as if the people on the bus died because the Manila Police force are incompetent. Perhaps the Police Force could have done things differently or earlier. But if they were incompetent or not is beside the issue! A madman with an M16 rifle took a bus hostage and killed innocent people. People died because Rolando Mendoza shot them.

“My husband died shielding me with his body,” one article is titled. In the moment of unspeakable savagery there is a story of incomprehensible heroism. Mrs. Leung said of her husband, “He was very brave. He rushed forward to try to prevent the hostage-taker from killing people and sacrificed himself.”[1] It is impossible to hear those words after watching the gruesome scene and maintain emotional composure. What a tragic and yet heroic epic.

Still, while we find some resolve in the heroism our minds are still stuck trying make sense of the mindless killing. Can we? Can we make sense of this? With God, yes.

Proverbs 16:4 says, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Hear this and resolve to know it is true, “the Lord made Rolando Mendoza.”  The Lord has made all things, even the wicked.[2] One author says, “God has done this in his own mysterious way that preserves the responsibility of the wicked and the sinlessness of his own heart.”[3] This does not make God wicked, it only makes him sovereign. How can that be? There can be two wills behind one action.

Genesis 37-43 follows the story of Joseph. Beginning at the age of 17 his life became grim. His brothers threw him into a pit, sold him into slavery, and then faked his death. After being sold into slavery he was falsely accused of sexual assault and put in prison. There he gained the reputation of one who interprets dreams. One day the Pharaoh himself called upon Joseph to interpret a dream. Through interpreting Pharaoh’s dream Joseph found himself second in charge only to the Pharaoh himself.

It was about that time that a great famine swept the land.  Egypt, however, had storehouses of food and Joseph was in charge of it. In fact, “all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.”[4] Who did “all the people” include? You guessed it, Joseph’s brothers. The brothers who sold him to slavery had now come to Egypt to ask him for food.

The story ends with the death of Joseph’s father in Egypt and his 11 brothers begging for mercy. Joseph’s brothers know that he has the power to be rid of them. But what Joseph tells them is full of both resolve and mystery. Joseph says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Two wills. One action.

The greatest example of two wills in one action is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The Jews meant evil against Jesus. They wanted to kill him and see him writhe in pain. God however, was making atonement for the sin of the world through his death. What the Jews meant for evil, God meant for good. Two wills. One action.

Friends, it is no small thing what we witnessed on live television last night. As I write it seems more like a dream than reality. But we, as Christians, can make sense of this. How can God mean good from what we saw? How can the deaths of the innocent tourists be justified? We cannot always know what God intends through his means. Perhaps, God wanted the world to see first hand his love in a husband giving his life for his wife. Perhaps the world is now asking questions about life and eternity that you can answer with the Gospel. What good God may bring we cannot now know. But we can know that what Rolando Mendoza meant for evil God can mean for good.

“For by him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” – Colossians 1:16

“ He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him  [Jesus].” Colossians 2:15

For His Glory,
Nathan
nathan@ibc.org.hk
www.ibc.org.hk


[1] Hong Kong Standard Newspaper, “My Husband Died Shielding Me With His Body”, Tuesday, August 24, 2010, pg3.

[2] John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:16

[3] Piper, John, Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in The Glory of Christ, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008), p. 56.

[4] Genesis 41:57

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