I have spent most of the day distracted, as I am sure most of you have as well.
Walking through Walmart, teaching the kids, doing laundry…even without the news on and without the computer, my thoughts have centered around the tragedy playing out in Connecticut today. I have wanted to sit down and write because, well, this is how I process…through words.
I haven’t been able to get on because I was teaching the kids, then I was making dinner, then we were talking and one child was on the computer, and then there was a baby girl who needed to be rocked and sung to…and all along I was aware that there were parents tonight with no child to read to, no child to rock. Empty bedrooms and gifts under the tree that have to be gut-wrenching reminders of the loss.
I cannot imagine. The grief I am aware of as I read the stories is a shadow of what they experience…and yet, we do experience it together somehow. There is this companionship in suffering that we get. We are all in this together and when tragedy strikes, we become aware again that we care and that there are others around us who need hope, just as we do.
And of course my thoughts turn to God. I know that for my friends who do not believe in God as I do, words of hope centered in a loving God sound hollow. Words of God having a plan, of God being sovereign….they would sound like fingernails on chalkboard to me if I did not believe and I faced overwhelming grief.
I do believe, though. I believe that there is a God…that there is something beyond us. I believe that we are created in an image, not that we are accidents. And in that image, I believe that there is a plan and there is hope and there is purpose. I believe that this God, this One Who creates also cares and loves and feels. I believe that He is present, even today. I believe that He is amazing love, and yet that He is also Just and True and that horrors like today will not simply be swallowed in some vapid love…but that there is evil and it will be dealt with. I believe that He can overcome evil, and that ultimately He will.
I have no idea why He waits so long, but I am thankful that He has. I am thankful that I have tasted and known that He is good even here, even in this broken world. Maybe because I have known His goodness in the midst of sorrow and brokenness that goodness has been all the sweeter. Maybe the fact that He does not refrain from giving His blessings even when we are wallowing in selfishness and greed and laziness and anger and hatred and evil….even in the midst of that He has stars that shoot across the sky and sunsets that dazzle and stir desires to worship. Maybe the question is not why does God allow such evil and pain…but why does God allow such good and wonder to be around for all to enjoy. Even for the evil ones? Even they get to see the Creation and know what it is to be human and created in the Image of One who would heal and restore…if they would only turn toward Him.
In the midst of prayers whispered today, in the midst of Christmas carols heard, in the midst of grief and wonder all mixed together I was reminded of a poem from Madeleine L’Engle…
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace
He came when the Heavens were unsteady
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He died with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
He came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
He did not wait. We cannot wait. There is hope. There is a God who came as man and changed everything. I don’t know exactly how that translates to those who bear the unbearable tonight and sleep in homes where silence rests when children’s laughter should be heard…but I know that it means there is more. To share our grief and to touch our pain He came. He understands and He knows…and may He have abounding, gracious, immeasurable mercy and grace and comfort for those whose world has been torn. May our Christmas have a measure of sobriety with the celebration as we share the grief of our fellow travelers in this journey.