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Friday, February 4, 2011

God Is Present In Tragedy


It has been a very hard week on our community.  The murder of Sam LaCara, principal of Schnell School has rocked us.  As more details come out it seems to make less and less sense.    John Leubbers, the school janitor who shot Sam, was a long time employee and even a golfing buddy with Sam.  And yet, in a moment of passionate rage, so many lives have been turned totally upside down, never to be the same.  Our hearts and minds quickly cry out “WHY?!”
One of my friends from the church shared with me how this has rocked his faith a little.  As he thinks about Sam’s wife and three daughters he was struggling to understand where God is in all this.  Another friend reflected that this was like experiencing 9/11 all over again for her, on a very close-up personal level.
In times like these, we can feel very much like the Psalmist:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. ” (Psalm 22:1–2, ESV)
            We get caught in our grief, unable to make sense of what is going on and questioning whether God is really even there.  And that is OK.
            One of the things I appreciate about the Psalms (and about the whole Bible) is the raw emotion that is found there.  It is not a fairy-tale book but a book that wrestles with life as it really is.  The emotions of grief and sadness and the thoughts they elicit are not hidden away as inappropriate but shared openly as a path to faith.
            Psalm 22 is the perfect example of this, a reflection on the intense agony of someone who is suffering and questioning life yet keeps coming back to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in the past and God’s hope for the future.
            Life is messy and it often carries with it deep pain.  We want Sunday School answers but they too often escape us.  And when we are in the midst of the confusion and pain, we begin to believe we will never find our way out, that God is far away and inattentive to our cries for comfort.
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. ” (Psalm 22:24, ESV)
            The Good News from God is that he not only has heard but he has responded.  God climbed into the messiness and confusion of life through his Son Jesus.  The prophet Isaiah writes of Jesus:  “…a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”.
            God has not forgotten you.  He has been with you in the past, he will be your salvation in the future and he is your comfort in the present because he IS present, he is here with us.  Simply call out to him.
            You may not feel it right now.  You may not even believe it right now, but your sorrow, pain and grief can be turned to peace and joy in Jesus if you will only turn to him.  It is the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection – evil, death and destruction do not win.  Life wins.  Overflowing, abundant, hope-filled life wins.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever! ” (Psalm 22:26, ESV)
            As we grieve together, let us love God together and love each other together.  Then the darkness will be pushed back and the light of God’s glory will shine in and through us.

You are loved,

David

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