I’ve taken a month or so off from writing. I don’t have a really good reason for it, other than sort of a “what does it matter” funky feeling I’ve been having lately. I’m not completely over this feeling, but the shooting in Connecticut that left twenty children, and five adults, laying dead on the ground has brought me back to the computer. I use writing to help me process things in my life, things happening in the world, and to hear from the Lord in these things. I need to hear from the Lord in this.
I first heard of the shooting while I was at work. A friend at work received a text from a friend that told her there had been a school shooting. All I really wanted to know initially was where the shooting was. Was it local?
I didn’t find out details of the shooting until I left work for the day and read about what had happened online from my phone. The sketchy details coming out initially about what had happened were enough to overwhelm me. Sadness for the children, both lost and those scared by what they had experienced, brought tears to my eyes.
Little children. Sweet children. Treasured children.
Then my thoughts went to the parents. Parents, who just a little while ago, had hugged their little ones goodbye, and wished them a great day, had no idea they had hugged those children for the last time
Lives that will never be lived out the way their parents had dreamed for them.
Birthday parties that will not happen now.
Everything changing in an instant.
Everyone wants to know why. We need to know why this happened, but the bitter truth is that it really doesn’t matter why. Knowing why will not bring back those children and adults who were lost. Of course, there will be possible reasons tossed around in the days and weeks ahead. Information about the shooter and his family will come out. None of it will change anything.
We have become a society of strangers. In all honesty, I don’t know any of my neighbors. Not even casually. And what about the people we do know? What if we suspected any of them were the least bit unstable? Would we do anything? Would we get involved in that way? Would we take that kind of risk? Likely not.
Our world continues to spin out of control. Right on schedule.
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Avoid such people. Quite a tall order when they are everywhere. What are Christians to do in these times of hardship? How are we supposed to process these horrible things going on right before our eyes?
I was reminded of a verse out of Jeremiah.
“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.” Isaiah 57:1
This verse comforted me years ago when I said goodbye to a son too soon. While I was robbed of enjoying his life here on earth, he was spared the pain and heartache this world can offer. The same will be true of these precious children.
This tragedy seems especially bad at this time of year. We can all imagine the unopened gifts laying under Christmas trees. We can all imagine that the joy of Christmas has been washed away for these families. And yet, it was on that first Christmas that true Joy came to the earth. This earth does not bring us joy. Ever. Joy does not come from the world, Joy came to the world,
“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:9-11
On that precious, inexplicable day, Joy came to us. This offering of real joy and peace through Jesus is still on the table. Even in this time of great sorrow, he comes to offer us joy. The world around us will continue to fray and pull apart at the seams. We will continue to see the evidence of the evil one prowling about, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. But our hope is not found in this world that is not our true home, our hope is found in Jesus. He is the giver of all good gifts. He is our hope and he still brings us joy.