Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas and Tragedy: Poor Bedfellows

Christmas and tragedy are poor bedfellows.
           In this season of Advent, when we remember the coming of Christ, we long for surrounding events to reflect the joyous mood. Then an unthinkable act of inhumanity happens and we shudder to remember that all is not well in the world.
            At Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a slaughter took place. Adults died.  They expected to return home that evening. Children’s souls lifted from this earth and passed into the hands of God. Without a doubt, we know the Evil One instigated this catastrophe.
            As I’ve read the Bible over the years, I’ve learned that God reigns supreme over all happenings on earth. He alone has the power to allow or forestall any happening, good or bad.  Questions occupy our thoughts and conversations. Why didn’t God step in and prevent this?    God alone understands all the intricacies of this devastation. Opinions about how to prevent evil are as numerous as grains of sand. We strive for solutions, for reasonable answers, to fix things.
            We want to draw boundaries around evil. We long to be in control of our lives, to make sure that our loved ones stay safe. We want good to penetrate hearts, as we long to expel evil out of every corner. That day is coming, however it’s not here, yet.
            Where are we capable of banning evil? Where do we have dominion over powers of darkness? We have power over our own heart and soul. We cannot force other humans to turn to God, to seek his will, to welcome a holy invasion of God into their hearts. We have willpower to invite God to saturate us with his goodness, to lead us not “into temptation” but to “deliver us from evil.”
           God, the origin of life set up a perfect plan: love him and love your neighbor and your enemy.
            When people lose sight of God, the creator of life, they begin to lose their way. In addition, as they stray from God, they lose respect for life. When power hungry dictators seek control through invasion and bloodshed—evil gains momentum. When selfish parents prefer mind-altering drugs to parenting children—evil laughs at their folly and tallies its rewards. When we cheat in the smallest way, have lustful thoughts, slay unborn children—evil wins victories. Life becomes cheap. When polls show that seventy-five per cent of married people cheat on their spouses, the Evil One sneers at God’s call for fidelity in marriage.   
            It’s Christmas. We want to gather with family, hug our children. We want to hear bells ringing, choirs singing, we want to be merry and happy. We want dark valleys to go away. We want shadows of death to disappear. We long for streams of living water to purify peoples and societies.
             Wholesome streams of water always have a fountainhead, a beginning place. Christians know that fountainhead as Jesus Christ. He spoke to his followers and said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
            Every moment we make choices. We either live in God’s camp or take up with the thief, whom God also calls a roaring lion, his purpose to steal, kill, and destroy. In God’s camp, he first purposes to give love, restore life, and make whole.
            Someday, all tears will cease. God will triumph over evil, sickness (mind and body), and death. In the end, God wins. Even now, a victory occurs each time we make a conscious decision to obey the Good Shepherd, who can lead us into paths of right thinking and living.
            This Christmas, may you receive the blessing of peace that comes from the hand of God. Only he can gift what we really need.          
            Hunger for Humility (Week 51): “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 5:24-27





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