Friday, December 14, 2012

Grief and the Gospel


What a complex word. I am at odds with myself on how to describe how I am feeling right now; writing, deleting, rewriting to try and express what is welling up in me right now.

 I do know one thing though; evil showed up this morning. It showed up in a classroom in Newtown, CT, it showed up on the front page of my newsfeed as tears streamed down my face, and it showed up in the heart of a young man who, for reasons unbeknownst to us, decided he needed to take the lives of nearly 30 people today, mostly young children.

Now I know that many you experienced the same thing: brokenness, tears, unquenchable grief, and a sense of lostness and confusion rarely felt. As I scrolled through the story this morning, stopping every few lines to weep, I realized something; Everything I am feeling is a gift. It is no accident that I am feeling unbelievably crushed, even for a group of people I have never met, for it pulls me out of my self-centered world and forces me to deal with ultimate reality. Many people will baulk in coming days, "I can't believe in God when there is evil like this in the world", and yet it is precisely because of this kind of evil that I have to believe in God. The only explanation for the weight I feel over this story, the utter sadness that sweeps over me, is that I am made in the image of a God who weeps, a God who feels, and a God who is by no means a stranger to grief. We can point fingers and make deriding comments towards a deity we may or may not believe in, but the fact is, deep down, there is a well of emotion that no scientist or philosopher can explain. As tragedy and horror strikes, we drink deep of the well of God's emotions, just as he weeps and mourns along with us.

God is not immune. Not only does He grieve with us, he has suffered for us. God is intimately familiar with the lost of a child, just as many parents in Newtown are experiencing today. God lost a Son, not in the chaos of gunfire, but in the horror of Roman execution. The shooting today only brought hurt and mourning, but the crucifixion brought peace to all. God wept so that we could not weep hopelessly. Jesus suffered so that we do not suffer in vain.

God may not explain evil, but he experienced it, and He holds out the hope that one day, He will destroy everything that sets itself up against his heart, and when that day comes, evil will be only a distant and fading memory.