I decided to let this one ruminate in the back of my mind for a while, and I’m glad I did. A lot of us have been asking hard questions since Wednesday. How could someone have picked up a gun and killed all those people? Why did no one notice this young man needed help? Why have there been so many school shootings? What has happened to our world?
Everyone has come out with the pat answers to these questions–people from every political and religious persuasion, people from every cultural, economic and racial persuasion, people who just want to have some control over a situation that has no control. Now, before anyone comments on the truth or perceived truth of their beliefs, I do believe some of what’s been said, but I believe these kind of situations run much deeper than the surface comments.
God wants us to ask the hard questions, the questions we think might not have answers. He wants us to ask questions in the midst of good and in the midst of evil. As Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Now, one might look at that and ask why people had to die like the people in Florida did. I don’t know why, and I probably won’t know until I see my Lord and Savior face to face. But, I do know He was there in the midst of it, and He was weeping when that young man chose to use a weapon and kill those people. Evil is present in our world, and God gave us all free will. We might question and rage about the consequences, but these are still unalterable truths. It doesn’t mean we can’t ask God the hard questions, and it doesn’t mean He doesn’t weep either.
I look at what I just wrote, and understanding still eludes me. Yes, I would write it again, but still, why…? There are two questions from the devotional I want to quote because I think finding the answers will lead me to what God wants me to find. “What’s Your plan for me? What am I supposed to be learning right now?” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) The answers come then, in a flood. Because, we all struggle, even those of us in the church.
Reports are coming out that the young man struggled, and no help was forthcoming. It does not excuse what he did, but still…what if help had been there? Would he have committed this crime? I don’t know, but I believe it would have been less likely.
We have a hard time in the church offering support and showing Jesus’ love to people on an ongoing basis especially for mental health reasons. Like I said yesterday, people in the church should be the safest to struggle with, but we’re not. We hide our struggles behind shields that make it difficult to be honest with each other. We pretend that everything is okay when it’s not. We use Bible verses as weapons instead of letting people weep in our arms. We don’t acknowledge doubts and questions thinking that God would seem weaker if we did. I am here to tell you that God can take our doubts and questions more than we think He can. He has much stronger shoulders than we think He does. He wants to know our struggles as well as our praises.
But, someone has to be first. Someone has to admit they struggle to others in their church family and not hide it. And maybe that’s the answer God is giving me. He wants me to admit I struggle so others will feel comfortable in admitting their struggles. Then, maybe God can begin a healing work in this thing we call a church, and we can all admit we are broken and flawed. We can help those who need it without judgment and without condemnation, and we’ll be able to see Jesus in our church communities where He should have been all long.
Praying God’s blessings on you all today!