“We live in a fallen world. Lord, bring us peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
That was my facebook status on that sad, sorrow-filled day. The day that children lost their innocence, the day that 26 precious people lost their lives. Because we do; we live in a fallen world.
And amongst the world filled with question and skepticism, we do, WE DO find hope. We find it amongst the encouraging?? words that are authoritative in our lives, the ones that say, “My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy.” Hold up, wait a minute. Seriously? Is this for real?! Because last I checked there was no joy in a child losing innocence, in a child losing the life ahead of them. But there is hope–and with that, I find joy.
because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need.
We live in a fallen world, in need of hope, in need of a Savior. So produce not just hope and joy in us sweet baby Jesus, produce perseverance and patience; for we live in a fallen world. And we wait, for Your peace here, for You to bring goodwill.
I waited. I waited one week, ten days, to write, to process, to grieve in my own way this tragedy, one of the worst in American history, the day a 20 year old took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults. But, in the grieving, the processing, I also awake on this Christmas Eve welcoming Pure Joy. Shoot, that’s going to be pretty controversial. bear with me, please. Today of all days, I am ready for hope, ready for my Savior, excited for this Joy. Wait for it. Try, just try, to understand it.
And while you are waiting, don’t put me in a category where this faith of mine is above the reality of tragedy. Because that’s not at all right. That’s not at all real.
This is what is real: The treasure in a hug from your little one. The symphony that plays as you hear your child laughing. The love that overfills your heart when you see them smile. And then the panic when you lose them in a supermarket isle. The fear that you might not ever hug them again, you might not ever hear them laugh again. And the tears, the tears that force you into a physical existence that you’d rather not be a part of. Death, the end.
I was 12 the day my innocence was lost. I place with that day the fragrance of cucumber melon mixed with school bus leather mixed with barf. To this day, that is a fearful, broken and a little bit disgusting aroma. It was April 20, 1999, the day of the Columbine Massacre. I walked into my house from my bus stop to be greeted with tight, secure, compassionate hugs from my mom and Aunt Be. And as I struggled out of those warm embraces I watched on the television as a student was thrusted out of a second story window, as a sign was held up saying “1 bleeding to death”, as students ran with their hands on their heads out of a building… the sound of a news reporter saying “today, a community, and our nation mourn.”
I don’t think I fully understood what it meant to mourn. Until then, I hadn’t fully been introduced to what evil was present in the world. And I surely did not understand a God who could allow such evil to happen. And on December 14, 2012, as I was all too familiarly reacquainted with those feelings of mourning, of evil, of doubt in a God who saves, I realized, I still don’t understand.
I was broken in the realization that in this life, I will never understand. In the midst of those “questions,” I drew close to a Jesus who has always given me hope, even when it’s hard to see it, harder to know it. A Jesus, a God whom I can trust in, always. And the amazing, beautiful thing, while so many could have turned away from this God that “allows” evil, instead, they turned to Him too, praying for comfort, praying for peace, hoping for answers in this time of darkness.
Max Lucado wrote this prayer in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings:
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark…
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were night shift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies…
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
There is a necessity for this world to have a Savior. And on this Christmas Eve, there is more joy in my heart than there is grieving because a Light is coming in the darkness.
And knowing that, it doesn’t take away the doubting questions, it doesn’t take away the tears that are shed for more loss of innocence. It doesn’t stop us from seeking our own justice, it just stops us. It stops us to pause in the “hustle and bustle” that starts on black Friday and ends
on Christmas morning eventually, to be present in rejoicing that Peace has come, that Peace will come again. So find Joy. Welcome JOY.
And while you’re at it, don’t stop with the questions, just be ready to believe the answers. “Why does God allow evil to happen?” One that we all have asked ourselves… over and over and over again…. Rob Bromhead, my church dad, the amazing pastor that blesses us all shared this:
I don’t know the mind of an infinite God. I don’t know why’s and the wherefores that God has a part of His plan for all of humanity. I cannot get into that mind.
Although we don’t know why God chose not to intervene, we do know another truth. That is: This God can be trusted.
Can we trust a God who loved us so much that He sent His only child into this dark world as a vulnerable infant?
Can we trust a God who allowed His only Son to die for those that He created yet had turned their backs away from Him?
Can we trust a God who raised His only Son from the dead as a way to declare that our final enemy, death, has been conquered once and for all?
Can we trust a God when He assures us that a day is coming, a day has been appointed, when He will judge Satan and his followers and all of humanity. All evil will be held in account and all injustice will be addressed?
Can we trust a God who has promised eternal life to all who believe in His Son, a promise made before the world began?
…Even our God experienced the pain and loss of His one and only son. He had to look on as He watched him suffer for us.
We can. We can trust in this God. Who came for us. FOR ALL, to give the joy, the hope, the peace in the darkness.
So my wish for you Darlings, joy this Christmas– for you who are happy, content, sick, humble, mourning, oppressed, rich, blessed, and loved, JOY.
Behold Him & live blessed, live joyful.
with love, nicole
in a joyous celebration and remembrance of their precious lives:
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Madeline F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N Wyatt, 6