Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Psalm 51.12
Beautiful things bring joy! The poinsettia, the traditional Christmas flower, is a joy to behold with green leaves rising on a stem to mysteriously burst forth in glorious red. The greatest joy for Christians to behold is the salvation brought about for us by Christ. His beautiful, life-filled years suddenly burst forth with the shedding of His precious blood. So great was His beautiful love for us.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, fill us with joy in the knowledge that Jesus’ blood set us free fro the bondage of sin. Amen.
This morning, I read an insightful article about the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. It was written last Friday but its truth is no less profound today. The author is Pastor Ray Johnston from Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California but I found the article on the Thinking Out Loud.blog.
Today is a heartbreaking day. Our nation experienced the second-worst school shooting in American history. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and everyone affected by this senseless tragedy. I, like all Americans, am devastated.
During tragic times like this, there is inevitably a mad scramble for clarity. How could this happen? Why would a good and loving God let this happen? Who’s to blame for this senseless violence?
The problem – shallow Christian clichès fall short and ultimately Clarity never comes…because at best, we see ‘through a glass dimly…’ During times like this we think we need Clarity when what we really need is Certainty.
I am certain that this senseless act breaks the heart of God because…
• I am certain that God understands what it means to lose a son
• I am certain that every one of today’s victims was precious to God
• I am certain that God is near to the brokenhearted
• I am certain that no life is ever devoid of meaning no matter how short
• I am certain that Jesus meant it when He said, “Let the little children come to me”
• I am certain that life is precious and that every day with your kids is a gift
• I am certain that America needs to rediscover a reverence for life
• I am certain that a day is coming when suffering will cease and God will reign
I greatly appreciate Pastor’s Ray wisdom in encouraging us to rest in truth, rather than asking “Why?” when tragedy hits. Experts in their fields immediately began to scrutinize and dissect, reason and analyze the shooter, Adam Lanza, but to what end? We will never fully understand or eliminate sin. In the aftermath of this shooting, people became fixated on clarity rather than focusing on certainty but comfort – what we truly need – is found in the Word of God. Grief is harder work than personality analysis but this is what brings healing and restoration. People need to cry and mourn because from God’s perspective, lamenting is indeed true, honorable, right and pure. (Philippians 4.8)
But is it possible to equip ourselves in the good times in ways that fortify our spirit and gird our loins for battle during the difficult times in life? I think “yes”.
We don’t ask “why” when life is perceived to be going well – it’s “kind of” expected, isn’t it? However, I believe that this leads to complacency and a misuse of our days. When life is “rolling along like a song,” we need to discipline ourselves and consciously lean into biblical truth so that our minds are transformed and our hearts are prepared for the inevitable heaviness that life brings – disappointment, difficulty and pain. It is wise to learn how to lament, how to be sad and to cry because these are the appropriate responses to tragedy in this world.
As I’ve listened to ongoing reports about this tragedy, I’ve often heard declarations like, ” We will do whatever we need to do to make sure that this kind of thing will never happen again” but no one can offer such assured resolution. We can’t claim that we’ve solved terrorism or murder or any other person-driven catastrophe because sin is vast and deep…
…but God is greater.
We are wise “to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 6.10)
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.