“Hope in OUR God”

My heart has been so heavy the past few days. My mind has been consumed with so many thoughts and questions. Once I heard news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, I had hoped that it was nothing major. The first report was that a teacher had been shot in the foot and that a child had been injured but alive and being taken to the hospital. I immediately thought okay, this is probably a domestic dispute gone horribly wrong. That’s all it can be. As we all know now, the reports that came in showed an absolutely grim situation. Much like the day that innocent lives were taken at Virginia Tech, just miles from here, my heart began to sink when I realized the seriousness of what had just happened.

As a mother, my mind could not comprehend this. I left for lunch shortly after the news broke and as I started driving I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. Then I asked, Why, God?? Why?? What leads someone to do this? We immediately want to put a reason to someone’s crime. As if it would make any sense to us. Just anything at all to make you understand. But there is nothing. Nothing that can justify taking innocent lives in such a horrific way.

I returned to work and immediately searched the words of Billy Graham. I wanted something to cling to. Some words of hope that would help the thoughts running through my mind. I felt comfort for a while but found myself back to a depressed state that night. Our youth group was planning to go caroling and I needed to get my head on straight for myself and my daughter. I found hope as we sang. We didn’t speak of the days events much that night. We tried to enjoy the moment. But as we sang Silent Night, I looked up to the sky. It was a perfectly clear night and the sky was full of stars. I thought of those precious ones who had left that day and realized they were in a much better place than we are.

The comments stemming from this shooting have run the gamut from more gun control to arming teachers and keeping schools locked full time during the day. I agree our schools need better security. Unfortunately it has come to that. But the comments that break my heart the most are the ones that, in response for a call to prayer, ask “Where was YOUR God when this happened?” My response: OUR God is still here. I have questions myself but I will not give up on MY God. I will turn to MY God when this happens because without Him there is no hope. MY God is still my refuge and my strength in these times. The last thing this world needs is more people giving up on God. I fear this is why our world is in the state it is in now. I read a quote from a father who lost a daughter on Friday. He said as much as she was needed here and missed, she had beat them to paradise. If he can still have hope in OUR God, then we all should.

So my thoughts leading in to today were this: What can I do? How can I change what is happening in our world for my daughter and future generations? I refuse to give up hope, I want so desperately to believe there is still good in this world. I know there is. It just doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Our Sunday school lesson today was very meaningful. It touched on this very subject. What can you do to use the gifts God has given you? How can you make a difference? It’s time to stop worrying about offending someone or being embarrassed. It’s time to step up and do something instead of sitting back and shaking our heads about why this happens. I know I can’t save the world but I can try to do my best to reach out to those who need to hear God’s word. Maybe it will make a difference, maybe not but for my daughter and those around me, I will do my best. So if you can pray, pray! If you can speak, speak! If you can’t speak, listen! You never know when something you can do can make a change. I urge everyone to do this. Anything…this week, to use what God has put in you. It does no good if you keep it to yourself.

Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in LOVE” – Ephesians 4:1-16

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Pray. Eat. Exercise. Love

Eat, Pray, Love is one of my favorite books. It is so refreshing and there is so much wisdom in the words. One of my favorite quotes from the book is this:

“God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. I was never not coming here. This was never not going to happen.”

I used to think about this in the sense that God brings you to happiness. That when everything you desire comes to you. But now I look at it and think, okay, there have been moments God planned where I would rather not be. This circle in the sand is not a happy, peaceful moment. Yet He planned it so what do I do with it?

I go on. I look for joy every day and take comfort in it.

As I do, it means that I am walking faithfully, knowing that God is in control and I must still continue on without fear. Yesterday, LIFE WAS GOOD. I haven’t been able to say that with a full and grateful heart in a while. I woke up this morning and wondered why I felt so good. Then I recalled the day before and and as I sat down for prayer this morning, I thanked God for all that He allowed me to do yesterday.

PRAY: A time at church to pray among others who seek Him as I do and for leaving with a joy for Him in my heart.

EAT: The nourishment He gave me as I ate with my family and enjoyed my Mom’s Sunday dinner, along with a beautiful day that allowed us to eat outside.

EXERCISE: The strength He gave me to hike two miles to the Cascades with Greg. Yes, I have done this before and it’s not that hard but stress and depresssion can take a toll mentally as well as physically. I asked Him for strength and He provided. As Greg said, the sweat is weakness leaving your body.

LOVE: A time at home in the evening with the ones I love. A visit with my Granny and doing something as simple as tossing a football around with Callie and Greg. Feeling and showing love. Being surrounded by it.

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love