Even if we could…where else would we go?
I must speak so carefully… so respectfully for the sake of everyone concerned.
I must draw from the deepest, most horrifying recesses of my own soul…
draw from this common place of shared anguish over something that has once again risen sharply into focus… oozing it’s way slowly across the entire world:
We all seem to feel it; we can’t help it. Even those who say they do not believe there is a God know it’s true: Something is dreadfully wrong and there is nothing we alone can do to fix it.
Flags fly at half mast, stuffed animals and tributes line the streets of Newtown Conneticut and a memorial may likely be built in memory of this innocence stolen and forever burning a little town’s name on the map of our conscience.
Pronouncements will be made and fingers pointed.
Accusations will arise and justice sought,
Arguments will be heard and laws levied.
But our guts wrench at the thought of it all because in the end we know: no answer will be satisfactory and no earthly justice can be adequately served that will deliver children back into the aching arms of their mothers and back into the hearts of their community. Not in Newtown or anywhere else where evil has scratched it’s ugly mark upon human history.
Because, we can’t control or legislate against evil; we live in it’s territory.
As for those who’d argue that their “jesus”, their “god” would never allow such things to happen, I can not answer with regard to their understanding of who Jesus really is.
I only know that Jesus taught hard things
to a hard people
often using hard examples.
This is hard.
He knows it.
God knows that sometimes it takes difficult and jarring moments to shake us from our daze when we might almost be willing to relax and listen to the coaxing voice of that enemy, very nearly convincing ourselves that we’re safe and all is right with the world. It’s not.
And we hate that about God. We might want to hate Him too…but we know we really can’t. We grieve and mourn, not only the wreckage and horror strewn before us, but we grieve most the wreckage within…
That horrible moment when our words and sensibilities fail us and we’re repulsed and choking on the noisy silences in response to our search for a sensible answer….and there isn’t one.
There’s just no way to make sense of it because we’re not supposed to.
We’re not supposed to be able to make sense of evil at all.
And maybe God does not owe it to us that we should. Maybe He has told us what we need to know and that’s all we’ll get. This is indeed a hard teaching. I’ve heard this a couple of times and I believe the spirit of these words are true: I should not say that God allows these things to happen or that these things are part of His divine will. Even if it might be true. Why?
Because that’s not my business. Because that’s not my place. Because those words are not helpful and that attitude is not healing or loving. And even when I can’t explain why it seems that sometimes God allows evil to have it’s way, I need to trust HIm. I must trust that this….even this.. will one day be redeemed.
As I stood at the clothes line yesterday pondering this thought, something so shocking occurred to me that even now I’m startled by it:
Perhaps most often, even as a Christian, perhaps I’ve not been asked to defend God or His word or even to explain His ways.
Instead, maybe I’ve only been asked to represent Him, His word and ways. Maybe only God, himself can make the defense clear….in His own way, in His own time….for His own glory.
The price of representation is often painful, costly and awkward but it’s part of being His chosen people and a royal priesthood. It’s my part of bringing comfort to those walking in any darkness by walking with them and sharing the light of His counsel and comfort which usually has come at the expense and depths of my own pain where…
….He has best comforted me…..has best comforted us.
So that from that comfort, moments to humbly speak truth may come to us and be born in us but only because the Spirit bears witness and testifies through us.
And the testimony is simple: this– even this, does not have to be the final word. There is hope and this is not the end.
We’ll hear again this Christmas the words from Isaiah and positioned later by John that people walking in darkness have seen a great light and this light is the Light of all men.
His name is Jesus.
What’s terrifying to us is the sudden realization that no matter how far we think we’ve come, it’s still dark. We’re often lulled into forgetting that it’s just as dark now as it was when those words were first scribed…just as dark now as it was on the night Jesus was born.
The only hope we have, for here and now and for tomorrow is in knowing that the Light can not be overcome by the darkness no matter how dark it gets before Jesus returns. It’s through the darkness that the light can best be seen and that Light– Jesus,
must. shine. through. us.
God planned it this way.
So while we must and will mourn with those who mourn, we must not give in to grieving as those who have no hope.
We must grab hold our lasting comfort in Him, share it with one another and then turn that comfort back over to others in this hurting world. To those who are this day, groping and grasping for peace and a reason for hope anywhere in this darkness… and they need to see and know Jesus.
We do this certain that even though it seems to be getting darker and darker, we know how this story ends. Recalling that somewhere it’s been said that it always seems darkest before the dawn.
And Dawn is coming.