There is a heaviness in my heart that has been there for days now. It seems that the nation is feeling it–maybe even the entire world has stopped to hang a head down and squeeze eyes shut and let the tears come.
It was the horror at Newtown, Connecticut that not long ago cast a darkness over our lives and made it difficult to cope that something so evil could even be real. I sat at my desk at work that December morning with my hand over my mouth as the details emerged and the stories were told and precious lives were counted and remembered–innocence ripped from stunned loved ones. Covering my face with open palms I told God then, I am so sorry. I am so sorry. Look what we’ve done. Oh, God, I am so sorry that we keep breaking Your heart.
I’ve never seen the brokenness of this world like I saw on that day, when hot tears streamed over our faces and questions were asked and anger struck hard that those families are forever left to endure a pain and a shattering that no one should have to experience. Even as a distant witness I trudged home and curled up and wept until it hurt, and that Sunday with our church family the tears flowed and the whole room and the world was full of pure ache and pure beating heart that I’ll never forget.
Now this week, first reading of the Gosnell trial and then the terror in the streets of Boston and the death and destruction in Texas had me feeling the weight of the world and a burden of grief. And it made some of us think and remember the lives taken in Oklahoma City years ago and it was that same feeling I felt walking through the memorial, the swallowing hard and the pit in my stomach and pain behind the eyes. Oh yes, I thought, this is that broken world again that I’ve been trying not to face.
On Friday as Boston stood still, we watched and prayed for no more devastation and no more murder. And sick to my stomach, I felt confused and wondered how these people I’ve never met and these events hundreds of miles away could strike such a chord in me and in the hearts of all of us. And, terrible as it may be to give it thought, my mind lands on a nineteen-year-old boy in a backyard, bloodied and dying but not backing down from his mission to destroy people he’s never met because of the lies of the evil one that he has believed. I feel the tragedy of darkness and of sin and how it wounds the world.
“…I wanted to wish it all away, close my eyes to sin and not bear witness. But in bearing witness, we bear the weight of glory, of God who bears sins and rises, and redemption requires testimony.” – Ann Voskamp (aholyexperience.com)
It is something odd to be heartsick when tragedy strikes in the lives of strangers, but in a world of unlimited information it’s become commonplace to feel and experience the joy and sadness of the whole world. It makes the world small and it makes headlines irrelevant because people are real. I can mourn with those I’ve never known because we are all connected by our suffering. We can’t reach out if we don’t enter in–and when we enter into pain we realize what is important, what is real, what is life, and what it is to be human. It reminds us that there is an ugly, devouring, dark force in this world that we desperately need to be rescued from.
Most of all, when we enter into pain we see what it means for God to be God. He is everything that heals and bandages, comforts and brings peace and saves. He is the soldiers and first responders and volunteers running into the chaos to aid victims, He is the stories of heroism, bravery, and selflessness; He is the loving memories of lost lives and the outpouring of support to a city trying to breathe again. A refuge in times of trouble, and can you think of any more troubled times than these? And now on a day when some are celebrating and praising Earth, my head is turned away from the beauty and trembling unpredictability of this created planet and my eyes are fixed on the constant, steady, Rock of the Creator, who speaks Justice, who suffered here with us and who heals like no one else can.
Sin runs deep, Your grace is more.