By now, most everyone has learned of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Unspeakable emotions course through my mind as I try to comprehend the reality that children were murdered at school. In the coming days, more details will come to light – perhaps the shooter himself suffered unspeakable horrors, but that will not make our grief any less pointed.
There are legitimate questions being posed, as is always the case when our fragile and temporary existence is shattered. Where is God in all of this? How can something like this happen to innocent children? What do we do about it? How do we prevent this from happening again?
To the questions of what do we do and how can we prevent this from happening again, I have no answer. There is nothing about this situation that makes sense. Comfort feels far removed, a mere intellectual idea rather than a living thing. As is true in many situations, a great irony abounds. In this time when we celebrate the birth of Immanuel, God with us, we feel far removed from God or that He is far removed from us.
Yet, God is with us. The anger, sadness, and unspeakable grief that we feel is a reflection of God’s anger, sadness, and grief. Deep in our souls we know that this is not right. This is not how a perfect world should operate.
In a move that can only be described as miraculous, Jesus came down to meet us in this mess. This world where children, learning their A, B, C’s are killed; where millions of people die because of disease and famine; where women and children are sold into slavery for the pleasure of others. This is the world that God entered. This is the world that God died for.
In times of grief when God seems most far away, we often find him closest to us. Not born in a palace, but in a foul-smelling manger. Not exalted high as victor, but lifted up to die on a cross – closer identifying himself with us as broken, needy people rather than the most holy God that he is. Yet, he emerges victorious. We are assured that death has been defeated. We serve a King who grieves with us and has assured us of the coming redemption and restoration; when children are no longer buried, when tears no longer flow, and when senseless actions are put to death. This is our hope right now. We cling to the God who came as the most innocent of children and now lives as the mightiest of Kings.
“…Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.”