The sky on my way home from my grocery run was a striking mixture of dark heavy clouds and patches of sun-streaked blue with bright light reflected on the trees and streets around me. I was struck by the intensity of the light and took the picture to show it. In bright light things aren’t always clearer. Sometimes you get a back-lit effect. It can be hard to see clearly.
It has been that way this week. It has been hard to listen as the news cycle demands more speculation to keep the topic burning rather than having the patience to let the story unfold. It has been some time in unfolding though it had, a dramatic, and sudden public climax. A life story is always more complex than we can fully comprehend. Yet our minds and hearts cry out for answers. Why did this happen? How did it happen? What would make anyone do such a thing, or in this case, these things in this way?
Currently, there seem to be more pieces than edges to the puzzle. And it may not be whole this side of eternity. A family not in tact. A mother murdered after spending her life caring. An angry young man. The stuff most of our stories are made of. They don’t all end this way. Sadly, some do. More than we would ever hope already have. So how do we, as believers, behave? What do we say when the topic turns to such events? What do we say to our kids? To ourselves? In our prayers?
I taught Middle school Sunday school this past week. We discussed the angelic appearance to the shepherds in Luke 2. The beginning announcement of “fear not”. The fact that the Psalmist assumes he is, or will be, walking “through the valley of the shadow of death” in chapter 23. That the world is not a safe place. That prayer is an effective form of self-protection. We prayed around the room for the schools, of all types, represented. We talked about glad tidings of great joy not looking like we would expect if we hadn’t heard about a baby in a manger.
And I was reminded that in every generation the annual celebration of Christmas exists in time and space alongside the ills and evils of our fallen world. God alone is our comfort and strength. He promises to be a present help in trouble. He knows just what it is to lose a son in a tragedy. Our call is to love our neighbors, to weep with those who weep. Not to give answers to unanswerable questions but to give light, and hope, and truth, and prayers.
Blessings for real peace, for comfort and true joy!