Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thinking, That's All: In Grieving

Like most everyone else I know, my heart felt like it went through a paper shredder as news broke yesterday about the dozens of little lost lives in the Newtown elementary school shooting.

Shredded into millions of tiny pieces.

My sister happened to come over as the news was breaking, and we sat at my dining room table with her only and my youngest, weeping and praying ...  mostly unable to even find words to cry even prayers.

What happened yesterday is undoubtedly and rightfully devastating to the Newtown community and particularly to the families who have suffered a heart-wrenchingly tragic loss.

But many of us onlookers are reeling, too, as if we were a physical part of that community, as if we actually knew the families who lost these precious babies when we know them only by news stories, only through our deep empathy and realizations that many of the families are likely much like our own.

Our grief seems to be deeply rooted, many of us so very truly broken hearted over the lives lost .... and maybe about more than just the lives lost.

Last night we went to a Christmas party, and I cried almost all the way there.

As I wept, I realized my grief stretched beyond sadness for the families and responders and the entire community; I grieved, too, the fallenness of our world. I grieved the evil that runs rampantly, like wildfire, throughout our world.

I grieved sin.

Oh. There's that word that separates, that divides, that stirs debate and conjures up definitions that are distorted.

I awoke to my mentor's thoughts, and I ate them for breakfast:

"We live in a world of relativism. This week's events in OR and CT declare loudly that there are absolutes—not everything is grey. Evil exists. Sin exists. Some things are not just poor choices, they are fundamentally wrong and offensive to a holy God. As a nation, we've seen God's standards profoundly violated this week, and I think on some level all of us whose hearts are breaking know this to be true."
Sin -- the very choices we make that are in direct opposition to a good God, a holy God, a righteous God, a loving God -- the kind of God who didn't just make a bunch of rules and leave us to figure existence and eternity out on our own, but the kind of God who came near.

The kind of God, who by sending His son to be Immanuel -- God with us -- demonstrated His love for us through not only words and healing and love during His life as a man

but also demonstrated His love for us by making a way for us to be reconciled to Him through Jesus' death and resurrection, His conquering of both sin and the grave. The kind of God who gives us a choice to love Him, to choose Him.

I grieve that we choose to doubt His goodness, denying the crazy-awesome love of that kind of God -- the kind who loves us more than life and into eternity.

I grieve sin.

And that's where I'm left still and silent, heart heavy and weeping while the world continues to spin.

How are we supposed to celebrate at parties while our hearts are broken? How are we supposed to laugh and be merry in the middle of our deep sadness? How are we supposed to celebrate Christmas as we mourn and grieve?

As I spill these heart cries to a friend she asks, voice filled with compassion,

"How are we not?"

How are we not supposed to celebrate beauty, goodness and love even as we mourn and grieve?

We can grieve evil, grieve tragedy, grieve fallenness, but we cannot let it steal our joy or else evil takes more than what it deserves. 

And in clinging to our true joy -- the hope we have in a God who came near, who made a way for us in our brokenness through Jesus to come to Him in His goodness, who promised to destroy sin for good on a day yet to come -- we offer Light in the darkness, Hope to the hopeless, Wholeness to the broken.

How should we best grieve as people who know this Light, this Hope, this Wholeness? {1 Thessalonians 4:13}

We comfort the afflicted.

We come to Him as we are, speechless as we may be as the "Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans." {Romans 8:26}

We give to Him our anxiety and "with Thanksgiving through prayer and petition make our requests known to God." {Philippians 4:6}

We share the Jesus who came to "bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." {Luke 4:18-21}

And we to cling to joy, hopeful and knowing that in the end, God, in His tireless love, wins. 

Why am I so certain of God's promises? Because He has been crazy faithful in my life and in this world throughout history. Click here for a really good listen about why we can trust God. Choose "Christmas Wrappings: Wrapped in Prophecy" by Josh Peterson. 


  1. So well written. And so true. Thank you, Hy.

  2. Thank you. That is what I was telling my children, only not as eloquently.


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