University Blog

A Message from Pastor Ben

Posted by Rev. Ben Trammell on

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose… What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?...Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul’s letter to the Romans (Chapter 8 selected verses)


Like you, I was horrified and deeply grieved by the terrible acts of violence at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. There is much we still don’t know. What we do know is that there has been a tremendous loss of life. We know that this happened close to home and in a place of worship.

We can imagine the folks of Sutherland Springs gathering, shaking hands and worshiping together just as we did Sunday. What is hard to imagine is why something like this can happen. What do we tell our kids, our coworkers, or ourselves after Sutherland Springs? What do we do in response to violence of this scale taking place in a house of worship?

The first thing we do is grieve. You might think prayer belongs first and you are correct. Lament is a form of prayer. It is the ache of the heart that says before God, ‘this hurts, this is hard, things should not be this way.’ The Psalms are filled with authentic anguish and even anger in the face of suffering and tragedy. Often in these moments we reach for words, and only tears come. Romans 8 reminds us that when we don’t know what to say the Spirit groans deep truths that God understands. Prayer is not a substitute for action. One who deeply and faithfully prays is not only already acting but will soon find their feet, hands and hearts in motion.

Scripture is clear that this world is broken, evil is persistent, and people make choices every day that are destructive for themselves and their neighbors. The center of our story of hope is the execution of the Prince of Peace on a Roman cross. We do not worship a God distant from suffering or unaware of the magnitude of human brokenness.

So what do we tell our kids, family and friends?

We tell them we love them. We tell them that even when the world is bad, God is good.

We admit that we cannot easily fix all that is wrong in this world but we can face it because we believe in power greater than death.

We take them with us as we bless our neighbors, say our prayers and work with all God has given us to ease the burden and suffering people endure in this world. We invite them to join us as we multiply and magnify the good things of this life that do endure.

We point them to the ancient hope in the face of pain, taunts and trauma found in the 42nd Psalm:

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?”

As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.   

As we face each day, may we hold fast to each other, to hope, and to faith greater than fear.

Pastor Ben


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