“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” – Romans 8:32
As some of you know, the post before this one was about Christmas, a poem, and how do we deal with the loss of the children and teachers in the Connecticut elementary school shooting.
My dad read my post, and replied. It felt very much like a “letter to the editor” and complemented and shed further light to what I said in my previous post. He talks about the hope we have in Christ and how this enables us to comfort others. The only thing I’d like to help clarify is that when he says “not by speaking theology or doctrine to them,” and then goes on in the next graph to say how we still proclaim Christ, is not a contradiction. I think he’s touching on the importance of not sounding trite or doing as James 2:15-17 says about just sounding spiritual, but not meeting the person’s needs.
Thank you for your timely and sensitive post. There is so much pain and suffering in our world, some obvious, some concealed behind a smile. God is sovereign, but this is only good news because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s sovereignty is not good news to those who do not believe, nor, does it necessarily or immediately sound like good news to someone who has suffered a tragic loss. It may. It may not.
God did not make us human (originally) so that we might experience grief, but that we might know joy forever in His presence. Comforting those who are sorrowing – I mean really comforting them, not by speaking theology or doctrine to them and wishing them well – requires great love and great wisdom and great compassion, at least. I think this is true whether it is a believer or non-believer.
Please, please let us tell them again and again about Jesus, the one who suffered and died and was raised from the dead. Let us speak incessantly of the Savior who is seated at God’s right hand, who is able to save to the uttermost, who ever lives to make intercession for us. Let us speak of Him who ordained all our days before there was one of them, in whose hand we are kept until that great day when He returns to judge the living and the dead. Let us speak of Him who loves us with such blazing, unquenchable intensity that He will not rest until we stand before Him holy and blameless. Let us take heed to His word that in this world we have tribulation – death, violence, perversity, greed, corruption, injustice, war and much more – so that we cease trying to make this world a private heaven. Finally, let us point always to the glory that shall be, that is laid up for those who love God and are called by Him. Paul says, “For I consider that the suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to us. This is being “spiritually minded.” So must we strive to be while we point others to the same hope that nourishes and sustains our own soul.
How my heart breaks for the parents and grandparents of the slain little ones! But, there is no fixing it with words or otherwise. There is Christ. There is grace, mercy, peace, forgiveness and hope, a living hope in Him. There is incomprehensible love, unknowable apart from grace because of its unsearchable magnitude. There is the promise of eternally satisfying, joy-producing good from all manner of evil. There is resurrection, glory and immortality promised to all who believe in Jesus. But, the fullness awaits His return. Until then, how utterly crucial it is that we strive to display the truth of our profession of Christ in lives of sacrificial, unfeigned love for each other and our neighbor, so that when the next tragedy comes those who are impacted will be more willing perhaps to hear about our Jesus in whom we have hoped.
The truth we celebrate during Christmas – God was manifested in the flesh – is for innumerable reasons the inexhaustible, unshakable, unchanging ground of our rejoicing right now, even in a world like ours filled with such heart-rending sorrow, brokenness and death, so much death. Against this black background the glory of God’s grace in Jesus Christ shines more magnificently bright. Wouldn’t you agree?
So, we grieve and it is right to do so. But, we also rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Merry Christmas! Not the superficial merriment of the profane secular Christmas, but that deep, soul-satisfying, heart-consoling, impregnable-to-tragedy merriment that comes from knowing Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.