27 graves

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My heart is completely broken today. I have no smile to offer, no words of comfort to console, no understanding to impart. I have truths to lean on – Ancient truths which grant me hope, not in circumstances, but in the promise of Presence.

The promise that I may cast my cares on the Lord and He will sustain me. For He will never let the righteous be shaken.

But I feel shaken.

I am wrecked. Grieved. Heartbroken.

Tears have been my companion since yesterday morning when I first learned of the devastating shooting in a small town in Connecticut. One man’s emotional instability – one man’s rage – ripped dozens of lives to pieces. Hundreds, even. How many families are sitting in silence today, too shocked by their new reality to even speak?

27 beds will be empty tonight.

27 graves will be prepared for innocent victims who had no time to protest before their lives were stolen from them.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

I cannot fathom the pain of the parents who lost their children yesterday. I cannot imagine the ache in the hearts of the children who lost brothers, sisters, and cousins. It is inconceivable to me that parents dropped their children off at school yesterday morning, fully expecting to pick them up just like any other day, and were told that their children would never come home again.

None of us can fathom it. We are all shocked. Outraged. Grief-stricken.

And afraid.

Because if someone was able to get into a school in a small, peaceful town in Connecticut, what about the schools of our own kids? What about the schools of our parents and friends, who are teachers? If our kids aren’t safe, who is?

Nothing is sacred anymore. Nothing is sacred.

Hear the word of the Lord, 
    because the Lord has a charge to bring
    against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
    no acknowledgment of God in the land.
There is only cursing, lying and murder,
    stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
    and bloodshed follows bloodshed.

We can blame poor regulation of gun sales or the prevalence of mental health issues and our incapacity to deal with it properly. We can impose stricter security measures in all of our schools or homeschool all of our kids and refuse to send them to school. But these solutions are only temporary. And they serve only to prevent the same outcome. But what about other acts of terror? How can we foresee and prevent those?

Devastation in response to this traumatic and tragic massacre of American children extends outside of American soil as well. Dozens of delegates from other countries have expressed their own shock and sympathy in response to hearing the news of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Everyone is horrified.

Why would anyone assault children like this? Why would we turn against each other like this, killing the most innocent among us? If we cannot trust each other to value and protect the sanctity of life, then what do we have to believe in?

Some trust in chariots and some in  horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

In the midst of this tragedy, we are pulling together as a nation to mourn this atrocity. We are unified with many other countries as we express shock and horror at such a heinous crime.

But our hubris, which will lead, once again, to our tragic downfall, is that we believe that “we, the people” can fix this. We believe that if we can continue to construct a patchwork quilt of moral codes, rules, regulations, and sheer grit, then we can prevent further tragedies from taking place.

If only we can restrict gun access, keep a closer eye on the mentally ill, heighten security measures, screen people with risky behavior, instill the right values…we can keep this from happening again. And that belief keeps the greatest of our fears at bay: that history will, indeed, repeat itself in our lifetime. In our neighborhood. On our watch.

So we vow to come together and take a stand. And as noble as that sounds, we cannot stand on the foundation of our own skewed morality and depravity.

Their deeds do not permit them
    to return to their God.
For the spirit of whoredom is within them,
    and they know not the Lord.

As a nation, as a culture, we are increasingly accepting of everyone else’s moral code. How can we ever agree on what is morally “right” when we are unwilling to tell someone else that they are morally “wrong?”

We are appalled by this crime (and rightly so) because it is cold-blooded murder. The annihilation of innocent children.

Yet abortion, the means by which hundreds and thousands of children are killed on a regular basis, is never met with such a widespread, unified reaction. As a nation, we have decided that this method of murder is permissible because it is someone’s choice.

I have read countless news reports on the Newtown shooting and I have yet to hear anyone defend the shooter as justified in his actions because killing these children was his “choice.”

See the problem? We cannot prevent these types of crimes. Because we have so blurred the lines between what is criminal and what is permissible that we only call into law that which shocks our collective conscience. And friends, there are very few things that prick our conscience collectively. We only acknowledge injustice as such when it directly violates us. When it seems to directly impede our personal safety or freedom.

I have heard many people say that since we have asked God to leave our schools, He has left them. That is why tragedy continues to strike. But this is inaccurate. God has not abandoned His people. He is omnipresent. He is Emmanuel. God with us. But God will not force Himself on us. While He has the power to make Himself known, He is not obligated to protect us in every situation.

When our Creator asks for our obedience and we abandon the safety of the shadow of His wing in order to pursue our own skewed perceptions of morality, how can we expect Him to guard our every step?

“But this command I gave them:  ‘Obey my voice, and  I will be your God, and you shall be my people.  And walk in all the way that I command you,  that it may be well with you.’”

This earth has a real Enemy. Who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. And we are handing ourselves over to be devoured every time we stake our safety and security on our own protective means and measures.

Friends, there will be those who debate until their dying breath the existence of God, the love of God, the care of God. But do not make the mistake of damning yourself because you spend your entire life loathing an invisible, unloving god who only cares about rules, hates those who sin, and can’t wait to send heathens to hell. Because you will have wasted your entire life loathing a fake god.

Instead, look to the Author of life. Allow yourself to consider the Living God of the Bible. And see how the selfish, inconsistent god of your imagination pales in comparison. And then look at the grievances of this world through the lens of that God. Whose law is love and whose Gospel is peace. Who is not a God of chaos or of confusion but of peace. And then see if maybe, just maybe, living a life of obedience and reverence to this God is not a closed-minded or ignorant way of life, but a life of freedom, hope, peace, and redemption.

I do not understand any more than you why those children had to die. But I do know that my God is a one of great compassion and I believe that as we grieve, He is grieving as well. And rejoicing, at the same time, because those children no longer face any threat of this fallen world. For they are now free from the fears of this world.

So when our grief, our heartache, our anger, and our pain do not bring us the answers our souls do desperately seek, may we consider that perhaps this world never will bring answers or comfort. But hope may still be found in the God of comfort whose Light is more powerful than the deepest darkness of our grieving hearts and this tragically broken world.

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