Moment of Pause

This morning, all across America parents hugged their children a little longer, a little more tightly. We held back tears of sorrow and fear as we put children on busses, or drove them to school and watched them go. Our hearts wept for those who lost their sons and daughters, their wives and friends. And as we mourn the lives lost, we also mourn once more for the loss of our illusion that this world is safe, that our schools are safe havens, that our children are somehow protected from the evils that we know exist.

"Mom, why are you standing outside with us at the bus stop in your pajamas," my kids wanted to know as I hopped out of my usual seated position in the warm car to hold them close to me just a moment more.

How can I tell them of the heartache spread deep across our country today? How could I ever explain? What kind of answers can I give to their questions, the same questions I have wrestled with for night after sleepless night? Questions with no answers.

In the wake of the CT tragedy, we easily get lost in darker places. People have turned atheist for far less. Nothing anyone can say or do, write or preach can make it right. And even those of great faith take pause: Where was God? Where was God on Friday morning as those parents thought they were sending their children off to just another ordinary day? And why didn't this most powerful and all-loving Creator step up to the plate and prevent such a horrific scene from unfolding? We shout it in our hearts, the swell of anger at God, questioning why He failed to show up for work that day. And those who normally bear loud witness to the glory of God, go silent. Why? Why not express doubt in troubling times? Why not disclose our anger, our disappointment? Why not share with the world the inner turmoil that takes place even in the hearts of the faithful?

Our questions about God's inaction remain unanswered. We are a creation given free will, each containing within us the potential for both ultimate good and ultimate evil. Yet in the inner most depths of our hearts, we often wish for more: more miracles, more immediate actions that point to an ever present and vigilantly armed God, a God at the ready, a God who will not let a single act of evil prevail.  In our despair, we may even think we want more smiting. But God, God is sometimes still. God is sometimes silent. Or maybe our angst and sorrow are too loud to let Him through. If we are most honest, we can admit that it is a grueling and unsettling act of faith to believe in a God who at times seems blatantly apathetic. As an impatient child of God, I want to know the answers right now, this very minute. Yet, as a parent I realize that sometimes there are no good answers, sometimes the child is simply not ready. I recognize God's silence. It's all too familiar.

But if there is anything we learn from those who have born witness before us, it is that God is present, even in the midst of such tragedies. That God was there, God is here now. God is always. God loves the victims, the survivors; those who mourn and grieve, and yes, that same God that loves you and me has a love big enough to surround even those who commit such heinous acts. While we struggle to understand and to forgive, God's love remains and with great love, He weeps. Because at the end of the day, we are all children of the same Creator and as a good parent does, God mourns the loss that took place in the heart of that lost soul long before these events occurred and He mourns for the lives of the victims, and their families and for all of us.

While we may be left wondering why we believe and how we can go on trusting in One who does not seem to care enough to act out loud, we come to see God: In the teachers who told their students that they loved them, in case that would be the last thing they heard. In the staff who shielded students from bullets. In those who rushed at a gun-weilding man in the off chance they could prevent what was to come. In the faces of children whose only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In all those, in the coming weeks and months, who will bear the burden of loss with those who mourn. God will tend to the basic needs, to the survivors, the families and the community through the hands of those serving one another.

We may be unsettled, shaken, and tiptoeing around the shattered pieces of our own faith, yet we know that there is truth in the sermon being preached all over the country: evil will not prevail. If we are struggling to see how, we, of many faiths, must do as those have done for generations before us: find strength in the believers of old.  When our faith teeters on the edge of unbelief, and we are tempted to jump ship, we must rely on the faith of our fore-fathers and mothers, of Moses and Abraham, Sarah and Hannah, Job, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph.... And when we wonder why we bother praying when our prayers seem to go unanswered, we pause and recall Jesus who went to a lonely place and prayed and wept. And so we, too, pray. And in that prayer we find stillness where it did not exist just moments before. And in the stillness, God.

May we hold on to the morsels of our faith so that God can begin the rebuilding, just as He has done before and will do again, in us and in our world. Let there be peace on earth, friends. And let it begin with us.

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