A family headed for missionary training was killed by a truck driver, just months before they were set to leave for Japan. The father had explained their mission in his blog: “The Japanese people are either the largest or second largest unreached people group on earth . . . The church in Japan is not yet large enough to share Christ and disciple new believers on its own. There is a need for more laborers.” This family answered God’s call but died on their way.

The family’s pastor spoke of the mysterious providence of our Creator. “God is sovereign over all events, and this tragedy did not surprise Him. So we take Psalm 46 to heart, ‘Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and mountains fall into the heart of the sea. . . . The Lord Almighty is with us.’ He’s ‘our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1-7).”

Yet there’s more to consider. Paul wanted to visit the church in Thessalonica and encourage them in the joy of the gospel. He said we “tried again and again” to “come to you,” but “Satan prevented us” (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Paul believed in the sovereignty of God, but he also knew we’re in a spiritual war. He wrote, “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against . . . evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

God is sovereign over all things. Yet He has given us freedom to choose both good and bad. He has also allowed Satan a season to battle against good. The evil one prevented Paul from visiting the Thessalonians, and he may have prevented this family from reaching Japan.

The battle continues. God’s call still stands. “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” By His strength, may we say, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 NIV).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Mark 1:1-13