The past few days have gone by slowly, laced with both joy and pain. I ran a fun 5k with my dad, saw friends at church, and had a relatively good day at school, but all of these positive things have been intermixed with grief over the events in China and Connecticut on Friday morning. I keep finding myself clicking news story after news story, drawn to the pain of such a tragedy.
As I’ve prayed for the families of Newtown and thought about the tragedy, I’ve found myself clinging to several truths:
1) God is good. Psalms 100:5 says, “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” No matter what happens, we can hold fast to the fact that God is good.
2) God is in control. God knew what was going to happen Friday morning; it was not a surprise to Him. We live in a sinful, evil world and though we’ll never know his specific reasons in this world, God allows sad things to happen. Even though it might not make sense to us, His ways are best. Proverbs 19:21, says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
3) God grieves with us. After his close friend Lazarus died, the shortest verse in the Bible records Jesus’s response: Jesus wept. God sent His son down on Earth to be with us. He can empathize with us because he’s been there. He knows grief and He grieves with us.
4) God works out everything for good. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” and Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God can find good in any situation and use it to further his glory. It is perfectly natural to question God and it’s ok, too. Often, questions will only lead us closer to Him. However, as creations, who are we to question our creator? Just as the characters in a story are not on the same level as their author, nor are we on the same level as God and our minds won’t be able to understand all the complexities of our creator until we reach Heaven.
On Friday night, I was planning on watching Christmas movies but after just one, I was ready to stop. It was too hard to think about such a joyful season on such a dark day. Instead, I turned on Soul Surfer and was so encouraged by it. Bethany Hamilton’s courage and faith amidst tragedy reminded me to hold on to the truths I mentioned above. One quote from the movie is “It’s hard to look at things when they are too close.” Often, that is how life is for us here on Earth. We can’t see all of God’s purposes and reasons behind what happens in our lives, but we do know that we can trust Him no matter what.
I want to leave you with “A Christmas Prayer” by Max Lucado:
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.