Of less notoriety here in the United States, but of no less senseless nature, simultaneously 7500 miles away across the globe a man attacks nearly two dozen school children with a knife, seeking to kill and slaughter those who are no less precious. He succeeds in severely injuring several before being subdued. Again, our minds struggle to grasp the depravity, the depths of chaotic wickedness that would drive men to such action.
It is comfortable for us to pin the labels "insane" or "unwell" on these men. We yearn for the clues that link the unraveling of their sanity, the breaking of their threads to reality, for certainly no rational individual would contemplate such actions let alone carry them out. The spiritual among us will go so far as to mention "God-less" or "demonic" and all of these prognoses carry truth. But in so labeling do we seek to distance ourselves from these men and their mental/spiritual plight? Isn't it easier to diagnose them with some mental or spiritual malady and then write them off as "lost" rather than seeing their actions as symptomatic of the spiritual state of our nation or of the world around us as hell encroaches and darkness enshrouds men's souls?
Today, while waiting for my doctor's appointment, I saw the faces of the victims for the first time. Most of the photos captured sweet young children, faces filled with hope, laughter, and joy. Some eyes twinkled in the slight mischievous light that only a young energetic and "creative" child can generate. All were filled with life, promise, and beauty. All said goodbye to parents, friends, and loved ones for the final time a few days ago before being violently taken from this earth. As a parent I found my throat constricting as grief and sorrow clutched at my chest and my eyes starting to burn at the thought of trees with gifts that would remain unopened and birthdays that would never occur. The "embarrassment" of tears was averted as I was interrupted by a nurse calling me into my appointment, but this sorrow brings weight upon the soul for all who would ponder the light that has been lost in this world for these small ones taken. Such musing brings an overwhelming desire to hold my own six year-olds, my four-year old, and my ten-year old.
Yet I am moved as a father and by my experiences as a parent. And though I love my children in a manner that is beyond my ability to put into words, I am assured there is One who loves each of us infinitely greater still. So often our Bibles seem to us to exemplify a God that sits distantly on His heavenly plane weighing the wickedness or holy intent of men's actions while dispassionately monitoring affairs of man as the whole of creation marches towards the prophesied ending of all things as spelled out in the last book. The cross is our ticket to board the "life-train" and other than this, we pretty much simply need to follow some core guidelines and do our best to help others get on board as well. Yet in this thinking, we fail to fully comprehend the heart of One who cherishes us above all else, who calls us His masterpieces - beyond the intracies of the smallest molecules or the churnings of the brightest galactic clusters.
I am certain the God who is called Love, the God who has promised that he knows the depths of our sorrows and the heights of our joys, the God who loved us so passionately He gave even his own Son as a ransom for every one of us so we could have the opportunity to be reconciled to Him and join Him in His family - - I am certain my Father was infinitely more moved by the events of a few days ago than I or any other being on this planet was. Where was he during this? I recently heard a commentary that I feel speaks very well to this question by Mike Huckabee entitled 'Where Was God?'
We are children of a Father who is moved by our sorrows, has compassion on our grief, and takes joy in our joys. He loves us infinitely more than we know how to love each other or ourselves. I was recently reminded of this in a post by Sammy Adebiyi centered around the shortest verse in the Bible.
"Jesus wept." - John 11:35
Consider the context. A friend, Lazarus, has died, maybe thirty years old - far too young. Sisters and other family members are grief stricken, hearts torn. Jesus has known his friend is dead for days, knows what he is going to do, knows what is about to transpire - yet he is still moved with compassion and grief, he is still moved by the sorrow of his beloved friends and the families, the loved ones gathered. He doesn't stroll into town with a smirk on his face and a "I know something you don't" demeanor. His love for each of us, his ultimate compassion that puts him in the moment every time and causes him to be "God WITH us" moved him to weeping in spite of the fact that he alone knew what was about to occur. He wept. He still weeps.
He is Immanuel - God is with us!
God is with the families of those savagely and violently taken just days ago - His heart breaks for them.
God is with small children who witnessed atrocities and their families as they struggle to put their world back together in a sensible manner - his heart aches for them to let Him comfort them.
God is with the families of 30,000 children who, today alone, have died from preventable diseases and hunger - His heart yearns for us to act.
God is with us - even when we don't reach for Him, He is with us longing for each of us to pursue the heart of the Father.
"I will not leave you as orphans comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless; I will come back to you."
John 14:18 AMP