Rev. Mike Holbrook is the General Superintendent of The Churches of Christ in Christian Union.
Mike brings a wealth of experience to the leadership of the CCCU. He has served as the South Central District Superintendent, Assistant District Superintendent, and Senior Pastor of Circleville First Church of Christ in Christian Union for sixteen years.
He has a great passion for leading churches to fulfill God's mission for them.
He and his wife, Charla, make their home in the Circleville, Ohio.
When a child dies I never cease to be amazed at how often I hear people say, "God must have needed another angel so He allowed your child to die." Let me assure you that when a child dies they do go to heaven. But they do NOT become angels. They are a glorified human being. If God needs more angels, He doesn't have to go around killing our babies to get them. If more angels are needed, He will create them just as He created the world.
The writer to the Hebrews in chapter 1:6&7 tells us that God created them to worship and serve Him. One of their major assignments, He gives them, is to minister to and protect the family of God.
In Hebrews 12:22, we read that the number of angels is beyond human numbering. John the Revelator tells us that he saw ten thousand times ten thousand angels ministering to the Lamb of God. Let me assure you there is not a shortage of angels.
Angels are usually invisible. Generally, we cannot see them or sense their presence. However, at times they can take on human form. Some years ago one of our World Gospel Mission missionaries in Honduras would saddle up his donkey and ride into a remote area of Honduras to preach the gospel. To get into the area he had to go through a mountain pass that was well known for bands of robbers and thieves. They robbed and killed many in that remote place.
After going into this dangerous area for many months one of those thieves was converted. He told the missionary that he had often waited for him to come through the pass with the intent of robbing and killing him. But he said every time you came through the pass you had two huge armed body guards riding on large white horses and we were afraid to attack you. The missionary was amazed because he always rode alone. The best explanation for this is that the men on white horses were guardian angels. Psalm 34:7, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round those who fear Him and delivereth them". Much of the time we are not even aware of their protection.
Our strong biblically based belief in angels raises the question, "Why then do tragedies still happen to the saints?" Where were God and His angels when the Muslim Jihadist invaded the village of Midyat, Turkey, and they massacred thirty members of my father's family and thousands of others simply because they would not renounce Christ and express belief in Allah.
We gain some insight into this question in Hebrews chapter 11 where we read about those who were miraculously delivered by faith in God. Then in verse 35 it talks about others. Others who were tortured, mocked, beaten, stoned, cut in half, killed with the sword, destitute, afflicted and tormented.
These unnamed saints must have called on God but no deliverance came. Why, because this is more usual than unusual.
One can gain a little more insight into this question when Jesus, facing Calvary prayed, "If it's possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will but thine be done." God did not even spare His own son. He had a higher plan and purpose. By allowing Jesus to suffer and die, He was providing salvation for all who would believe.
At times, God allows suffering and tragedy in our lives. We may not understand why, but we know that God is at work in our lives. He is trying to make great saints out of us. He will always bring something good out of our suffering if we will keep our trust in Him.
Hebrews 11 indicates that those who walked by faith, without any visible deliverance will have a great reward in heaven because they endured by faith alone.
It is very human to ask the question, why, when we are going through suffering. It is often impossible to find adequate answers to that question. A far better question to ask is, what? What can I learn from this experience that will enable me to be a more effective witness for the glory of God?
Let's stand up like the three Hebrew children and say, "Our God will deliver us, but if He doesn't we still will not bow down and worship your golden image." They went through the fire but they came out completely liberated from the chords that bound them. They found freedom in a fiery furnace. Your faith and trust in God can take you to a higher plain and greater freedom in Christ.