By Friday morning of last week, I was emotionally spent. A friends was suffering and sick, a baby was in the NICU, both of our cars were at the mechanic, and I was about to suffer a breakdown in the front seat of our (borrowed) car when the updates started posting.
A tragedy of horrible, awful proportion.
How do you even begin to process the murder of children? How do you focus on Christmas festivities when families' holiday seasons will be forever tainted with grief?
Then the other status updates started. You know the ones. Gun control. Abortion. Keep God out of schools and this is what happens. Ugh. I grieved all over again for the lost state of our world.
How can you jump to politics when there are families suffering? How can you push an agenda in a time of national grief? How can you say this is God's judgment?
My heart couldn't handle it, both the trauma of what happened, and the harsh and tactless responses.
It's taken me a while to process my thoughts, but here they are: I've learned in the deepest, darkest, loneliest, scariest moment of my life, Jesus wasn't absent. He wasn't removed. He wasn't up on some throne in Heaven, watching my suffering in judgment or satisfaction. He wasn't touting his agenda in my ears: "If only you did this, then maybe your circumstances would be different."
True love doesn't do any of those things.
No, Jesus was there. In my hospital room. In the ambulance. By my side. In the darkest of times, my Savior showed how accessible and real and involved he really is.
So, where was Jesus when those children were suffering? The God I believe in, the Son who revealed himself to me in a hospital room, my Jesus, was there, in those classrooms. He stood between the man with a weapon and the unarmed children.
Where was Jesus as those teachers and administrators stood up in incredible bravery? He stood with them, shoulder to shoulder.
Where was Jesus as those parents learned of their children's fates? He stood with them, weeping, arms outstretched to provide comfort and compassion.
The God I believe in, the God I serve, the God who came at Christmastime, Emmanuel, God WITH us...not only is he with us, but he empathizes better than any of us with what happened that horrible day.
Jesus the young child feared for his life as his family fled King Herod's massacre of young boys.
Jesus the man suffered at the hands of evil men, innocently killed.
God the father lost his one and only son to violent crime.
If anyone can relate to the events of last week, can provide comfort and empathy in a time of great sorrow, it is the Savior of the world. He's not pushing any agenda. He's not standing in judgment. No, my Jesus is weeping with compassion, standing in solidarity, and opening his arms wide to a people that are hurting.
My heart is still hurting. Others are leaping to help out, springing to action. I'm still sitting here, emotionally spent. My human heart has taken just about all it can. Yet deep within, my soul still hopes. I hope in Emmanuel, God with us. It is my prayer that in this time of great grief and spiritual uncertainty, I can speak gospel truth of a God who knows, who cares, and who enters into our suffering with empathy, with love, and with his very presence.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.