I have avoided posting anything so far about the senseless slaughter of innocent children and teachers in Newtown. I have been looking on Facebook and a few blogs for meaningful comments to share on my blog. Everything that could be said, has been said. And said. And said. One of my Facebook friends poured her heart out on her Facebook page. She expressed some of the same feelings and emotions many others experienced. But her candor and transparency touched my heart. And I want to share her thoughts with all of you.
A wonderful blessing about my friend is that she is a former student of mine at Capitol Heights Junior High School in Montgomery, Alabama, Deanna Shaddix Kell. One blessing is that God has allowed us to reconnect after all these years and become friends all over again through Facebook. The other blessing, to me, is that Deanna loves the Lord and has an intimate and personal relationship with our Savior. We also share that. Deanna graduated from Mississippi State (It’s not Alabama, but at least it’s an SEC school.) and now works for a law firm in West Alabama. She is the proud mother of two sons, and the grandmother to a new granddaughter. Here are her heartfelt thoughts.
It is hard to be a believer when tragedy strikes. I question God. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around things like what happened in CT. I know that evil has existed since the beginning of time but then I also know that God is omni….everything. My thinking goes like this…didn’t God know this was going to happen before it happened? And, so, did He allow it? And why? Why would he allow such a horrible thing to happen? Was it His will? These kinds of questions can, and do, shake my faith to the core. I know that when I start down this road of thinking, God is going to step in and take a firm hand with me because He knows me better than anyone and He knows what it takes to get my attention. He knows what it takes to steer me back to where I need to be. And, He always brings this verse to mind….in John 21:21-22, Peter is really concerned about the way he feels Jesus is treating him compared to the way he is treating John, and he asks Jesus, “what about him” and Jesus says to Peter, and I paraphrase….that is none of your business, if I want him to remain alive until my return, it doesn’t concern you. You are only to be concerned with following me..
And then, I am back on track. I am still afraid, though. I am fearful for the safety of the people I love the most. I mean, if this could happen to babies, 5 and 6 years old, it could happen to anyone. That fear can be enough to keep me from wanting to let any of them out of my sight. Can’t I just stay locked up with my family and friends? Can’t I just keep them safe? How do we get past that fear? And again, I hear…”follow me…that’s all I am asking you to do.” And He points me to John 16:33…”.I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” and John 10:10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. Not a hide in your house for fear of what is going to happen next, but a knowing that something may happen, but all that has been overcome so that we can have an abundant life, an abundant life, with which to share we everyone we come in contact with.
I attended a funeral not long ago and the pastor addressed the saying that God will never put on us more than we can handle and I so appreciated what he said. He said that he believes that God will allow us to have more on us than we can handle. He allows enough on us that we will break, even, but God never breaks and God is always there, even when we get to those points where we can’t handle what is happening. Up to that point, I thought I must have been forgotten by God. I know in my life there have been times when I was broken and I thought because the saying said he would never allow that, then He surely must have forgotten me. It kept me angry with God for many years. But as I look back on those times now, I know that even though God allowed me to be broken, He never left my side, just like He will never leave the side of the hurting parents and family and friends of all those who so violently lost their lives this week.
I don’t know why it happened but I do believe that God was not taken by surprise. I do believe that we will see hope come out of this. I do believe that we will see God’s hand in so many places but I also believe that He intends for us, as believers, to keep walking through this world with His message of love and forgiveness and hope and salvation…even if our legs are shaking while we walk…we keep on walking. Even if we don’t understand, we keep on walking. Everything is not our business but every soul we come in contact with is. God is always reminding me to mind my own business…..and keep on walking, loving as many people as I can. Practicing forgiveness, where ever and when ever I can, even if it’s hard. Helping anyone I can. If I am doing all these things, I don’t have time to worry about the “why”.
I’m not going to attempt to try to address issues like gun control and mental illness in this equation. I believe God expects us to be wise in taking care of ourselves and our families and we have to look within to find out what that means for each of us, but I try to filter everything that happens in my life through the word of God. I try to live my life that way. And what it tells me is that we are going to have trouble, we are going to have heartbreaking, soul-shaking events happen to us. Our lives are personally going to be touched by heart ache and tragedy that we never see coming, but none of it catches God off guard. None of it surprises Him and it’s nothing he can’t handle, or use if we will let him. It seems harsh maybe. I know people question God. I question God. But, if you stop and think about it, what are the alternatives?
Out of this tragedy, I have heard stories of heroism, compassion, courage, love, forgiveness. These things will overshadow this tragedy. They will make us believe in the goodness of others and our own goodness. Every time something of this magnitude occurs in this country, or in our lives, I pray that it will leave us all better people. That we will lean on God, lean on one another, pray more, hope more, forgive more and love more. Christmas is coming. What a blow to evil it would be to celebrate it by giving, by hoping and by loving. There is still hope.