The recent heartbreak in Newtown, Conn., has inserted a sorrowful tragedy into a season traditionally associated with joy. Our nation mourns the loss of life even as it prepares to celebrate the birth of hope.
But that’s exactly what the birth of Jesus is meant to do – to offer comfort and hope to those who are mourning. The wounds left by the lunacy of Adam Lanza are eased by the gift God gave this earth to help us through the worst of times.
Some people may scoff at the thought of turning to God at a time like this. “Where was God during the massacre?” they ask, generally from a position of unbelief in the Deity. It’s truly amazing how so many people refuse to believe in God until something bad happens, at which time they squarely blame Him for “letting” the tragedy occur.
But God knows about bad things. He has personal experience with them. Herod slaughtered tiny, innocent toddlers by the hundreds in his attempt to wipe out the newborn Jesus. And later, God so loved us that he let his Son suffer the most unspeakable of deaths, so that the rest of us could find eternal life.
Right now people and politicians are vigorously pointing the finger of blame in endless directions, trying to make sense out of the senseless, trying to cure the incurable. There is no doubt America is in a world of hurt, but few people want to hear the things that would help, because it would require shifting responsibility away from government solutions and onto the shoulders of individual citizens. So the hurt continues.
But politics aside, the question remains: Where was God while these bad things were happening?
I am not a theologian or a Bible scholar. I am a simple, sinful Christian striving, like millions of others, to understand a complex, evil world. But I humbly attempted to address this notion of blaming God in my book “The Simplicity Primer” as follows:
Bad things happen. Life is uncertain. Tragedies occur.
We might be downsized out of our job. We may experience a devastating illness. A child may be born handicapped. We might lose our spouse in a car accident. We might lose our home in a natural disaster.
And then we blame God for allowing this to happen. How could He do this to us, when we’ve been nothing but faithful to Him all our life?
But sometimes spiritual enlightenment can happen in the oddest places. For my husband, it came when he was at a neighbor’s house, watching a pretty mediocre Western movie … except for one gem.
The movie was about some pioneers. A man’s wife had died, leaving him with a small daughter. A woman, pregnant with her first child, lost her husband on the trail. The woman looked at the wreckage of all her hopes and dreams and blamed God for her troubles. The man took her aside and said, “I know you’re mad at God. But God is not responsible for your problems.” He added, “When I go for a walk with my daughter and she trips and falls, she knows that I didn’t cause her to stumble. But she also knows that I will be there to lift her up. To minister to her hurts, to support her on our journey, and if necessary to carry her home.”
I do not believe God causes our misfortune. But – what a wondrous concept – God is here to pick us up, minister to our hurts, support us on our journey, and when the time comes, to carry us home.
Please don’t blame God for the Adam Lanza’s of the world. He’s not responsible. We are.
God supplied us with the earth and all life, and the free will to choose good – or evil. He also supplied us with a Savior who gives hope for eternal life. He even gave us an Operator’s Manual for living a life of honor, respect and love.
So we can’t lose our perspective. We can’t punish an entire nation for the sins of the rare lunatic. We can’t blame our King – God – for our human weaknesses and frailties when we refuse to abide by His word.
Above all, let us not forget that there is so much good in the world, good that we choose to recognize and remember during Christmas.
In response to the silly Mayan calendar nonsense that culminated this week, someone wrote a comment about what he would miss if the world ended: “I would miss polite children born with wise souls and a loving heart, people that ask if we needed help just because they were born with a service heart, neighbors who bring excess fruit from their tree just to share their blessings. Companies that place a few hard candies in with the order to delight us with a gift of sweetness.”
In a world of hurt, it helps to bear in mind there is a world of beauty as well. In the knee-jerk effort to stop the madness of killers, let us not forget that there are endless millions of kind, helpful, decent people out there, willing to lend a hand to those in trouble, donate to worthy causes, work and fight for good, and tuck a few candies in with our order to delight us with the gift of sweetness.
To those who enter this holy time of year in mourning, remember that a weary world does indeed have reason to rejoice. We celebrate the birth of the greatest Comforter in history, one who will unhesitatingly wrap his arms around us and offer consolation and hope. As a nation, we still have a public opportunity to declare our belief in this Savior at this time of year. And I say, God bless us, every one.
Now go hug your kids, and pray for those whose kids were taken away.
A blessed and holy Christmas to you all.