John A. Braun

The bullets always ricocheted off the boulders protecting the hero. When he popped up his head and raised his gun to shoot at the bad guy, he rarely missed. I grew up with that firmly in my mind as I watched the Westerns of my day. Sound effects and that puff of debris from where the bullet hit the rock made it all the more believable.

Most people do not remember the television shows I watched years ago, but they still see the same thing happening in the movies today. In some movies the bullets still fly, but in others it’s the flash of light from the lasers or blasters. Either way the bad guys still miss more often than they hit the hero. The special effects and the surprising escapes still keep our attention. The hero survives to achieve his mission and save the day, the world, his friend, or the nation.

I sometimes wonder if my idea of rescue and protection is shaped by what I saw on TV or in the movies. Do I consider my prayers answered when I escape danger or disease? Then the threat only ricochets away harmlessly. I’m safe and so is the one I prayed for. Yes, my prayers are answered, and I thank God for his protection and, in some cases, his modern miracles. The bullets have missed.

But sometimes the bullets don’t miss. Our heroes get wounded and suffer. At times they also die in the face of disease or accident. They are not just our heroes; they are also our friends, loved ones, and colleagues. Then there is the temptation to think that God has not answered our prayers. We need to hunker down and rethink things.

God always has in mind what is best for us and all his people. He does what is best, just as he promised. But he does not simply preserve our life as it is and keep us going ahead without trouble. He will challenge us to remember that heroes (read friends, loved ones, and colleagues) don’t always live as they have or live to fight another day. He strategically changes our lives in many ways for our good.

Before we go too far, we need to be a bit introspective about our own situation. We like to think about those other heroes we know but in the comfort and security that we are personally safe and the bullets of disaster have whizzed over our heads. We breathe a sigh of relief, but we ought never ignore the reality that our journey through this life follows a narrow path to heaven. That path has hardships, pain, and misery for us too.

Like soldiers in the midst of battle, casualties and death are realities we cannot prevent. Sometimes they do just miss us. But whether we are counted among them or not, whether we have escaped difficulties or been stopped in our tracks by them, we have a hope from a God who loves us. He, at times, will challenge us by turning our world upside down, but he does not desert us.

That hope grows large as we remember the empty tomb in Joseph’s garden. The Lord Jesus is alive. Death could not hold him. It can’t hold any of his disciples either. Easter is our sure hope on the battleground of life.

The bullet with our name on it is out there somewhere, but Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25,26 ESV).

John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 4
Issue: April 2017

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