April 17, 2007

unspeakable tragedy and the sovereignty of God

dear annoymous comment person #1 in the previous post, who are you? why would you say something like that and be afraid to say who you are? not that i have to defend myself to you, but i've been working out this post all morning and afternoon in my head. it makes me sad to think that you, whoever you are, respect my views, but that you don't know me well enough to think that i'm only thinking about myself in the midst of tragedy. but why should unspeakable tragedy stop us from living life? in the words of annonymous #2, why should i not celebrate that today was the day that God brought me into this world?

dear annoymous #2 - thank you. you must know me better than annoymous #1.

enough defending myself - i wasn't put on earth to please annoymous #1.

it's been hard to work today. which is funny, b/c whenever people are killed in iraq or car bombs go off in afghanistan and multiple people are killed, i don't really think twice about it. it, honestly, makes me feel a little guilty for being heavy and distracted about the tragedy at virginia tech. i guess it's b/c this one hits just a bit too close to home since i have a dear friend who graduated from vt just last may. i can't seem to concentrate on anything but that, and i just can't stop praying for everyone involved. my friend emailed me and said that she took a lot of classes from one of the professors that was killed. she was good friends and a lab partner to one of the students that was killed. she asks for prayer for her circle of friends - none of whom know (or knew, as the case may be) the Lord. she was "the only conservative Christian that they would consider a friend", and she's needing prayer for what to say, how to act, and how to treat her friends that she'll see at funerals this week. she asks for prayer to become transparent enough for her friends to be able to see the love of God, and for her to be able to comprehend the hard and mysterious topic of God's sovereignty. please pray for laura - for her to have wisdom in what to say and how to pray through this. pray that she is able to experience God's love and be able to pass it on...

one of the articles that i read about the shooter (or was it one i heard in the car?) mentioned that he was very quiet, kept to himself, had hardly any friends and wouldn't even respond to people when they said "hello" to him. he was an english major, and some of his essays were so disturbing that the teachers sent him to counseling. i saw a picture of cho online, and i can't stop praying for his family. his family was very polite, kind and "quite the opposite" of cho. what is it like to be his parents? to go through this? to know that your child took the lives of so many people and changed the lives of dozens and hundreds and thousands more? i've been praying for someone, anyone in the community where they live to reach out to them in love. for them to somehow experience the love of God - nothing is impossible with God.

i was glad i got to go to lunch with chris this afternoon - yes b/c it's fun to eat with my husband and b/c the food was absolutely stupid good - but also b/c i got to hear some of the wmbw afternoon programs that i love so much. jennifer rothschild was the guest on "midday connection". i actually highly recommend listening to the podcast (if you know how...i have no clue how to do that...) it was a really appropriate and beautiful interview. anyway, i don't know jennifer's story, but i did hear that she's a 43 year old blind woman who apparently wasn't blind at birth. she and anita (the host) were taking phone calls and talking about, for lack of a better phrase, the "tough things" in life. a man called in saying that he and his wife had been married for 30-someodd years and she had become paralyzed from the waist down a few years ago. he can't take care of her anymore and he had to admit her to a nursing home. they actually kind of inturrupted him, it sounded like, before he was done with his story and/or question. (maybe it was mentioned before i tuned in that you should call in with encouragement needs or something...) jennifer said that one day when she was reading her emails (her computer talks to her, or reads her emails to her) she got one from a man who said "i have cancer, and i have faith, but i don't know how to have both." a few other "tough" emails came through, and she said she just sat there and cried and that her heart broke for these strangers and she said out loud, "God, why cancer when you can heal? why blindness? [and in the caller's case] why a paralyzed wife?!" she said that so often we'll sit and say "we don't deserve this, God! WHY TRAGEDY?!" and she said with her very next breath, that was so obviously from the Lord, she was saying "why Grace? why Love? why Mercy? you don't deserve those either, jennifer."

rich mullins has a song called "doubly good to you" or something like that. in an interview one time he said that a man approached him and was saying negative things about the title. (i can't really remember what he said...) to which rich responded "well, God doesn't have to be singly good to anybody." that has always struck me. whenever i have a bad day with my arm pain, or i'm hungry for a half hour and complaining, or i have a fight with a friend or a car wreck or anything that barely even resembles tragedy in my life, that echoes in my mind. "even the breath you're breathing is God being doubly good to you - how could you even expect more?!"

who knows why tragedy happens every day? who has an answer for why car bombs go off and suicide bombers succeed with their tasks, or why mothers try to drown their children, or why wives of pastors kill their husbands, or why people have affairs on their spouses of multiple years, or why millions of people die each year simply because they don't have food when we in america have MORE than an abundance...we live in a fallen world. it started in the garden of eden, and it's not going to stop until Jesus returns. like it or not, believe it or not, that's the way things are.

for those of you reading this who know Jesus, mourn the tragedy at vt with hope that there is more to life than just this world and the tragedies here. for those of you reading this who do not know Jesus, please know that He is for real, He does offer hope when there doesn't seem to be any. it doesn't mean that you won't have pain, or disappointment, or difficult decisions to make. it doesn't mean that you won't get sick, or have car wrecks, or experience the loss of a loved one. but it does mean that you can have hope. not hope for things that pass away - more stuff to own, a better name for yourself, no problems in life - but hope for things that will never leave - an eternity with the Living God and unspeakable peace. it's for real people. and for those of you who want to read even more than what i've already rambled about...

Philippians 4:5-7 The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

it's true, and i have proof. i knew a family in college (my roommate knew them better) whose son committed suicide. carrie said that when she went to the funeral, the mom had unspeakable peace - she would hug crying people and encourage them with the peace that she had in her heart. does that happen without something bigger than yourself? no! that only happens when you know the sovereign God of the universe.

Romans 8:37-39 ...in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 61:1-3 Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

i could quote all of psalms. just go read them. all of them.

More, by Andrew Peterson
John 12:24
This is not the end here at this grave
This is just a hole that someone made
Every hole was made to fill
And every heart can feel it still--
Our nature hates a vacuum

This is not the hardest part of all
This is just the seed that has to fall
All our lives we till the ground
Until we lay our sorrows down
And watch the sky for rain

There is more
More than all this pain
More than all the falling down
And the getting up again
There is more
More than we can see
From our tiny vantage point
In this vast eternity
There is more

A thing resounds when it rings true
Ringing all the bells inside of you
Like a golden sky on a summer eve
Your heart is tugging at your sleeve
And you cannot say why
There must be more

There is more
More than we can stand
Standing in the glory
Of a love that never ends
There is more
More than we can guess
More and more, forever more
And not a second less

There is more than what the naked eye can see
Clothing all our days with mystery
Watching over everything
Wilder than our wildest dreams
Could ever dream to be
There is more

from "Lay Me Down" by Andrew Peterson
All of the death that ever was, if you sat it next to Life,
I believe it would barely fill a cup.
'Cause I believe there's power in the Blood!


Blogger Chris Williams said...

I didn't actually take the time to read your post, but I did take the time to read the comment the first section talked about. You should definitely just turn anonymous comments off. You can avoid the "bringer-downers" that way... also the spam if you're getting any. Peace Out, Chris

3:47 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

i'd like to echo the comments of other posters who rightly defended you as a loving and giving person. you have an amazing and deep sensitivity to the hurting that exists for others, whether it be a couple at church or soliders in iraq or a child you've never met from africa.

whoever left that comment either has no idea of the sensitive spirit you've prayed for and allowed into your life, or they do know and are exploiting that by giving you a guilt trip. the comment was ignorant and reckless at best, poisonous and hurtful at worst.

it was a pretty cheap shot, disappointing on this day of tragedy ... and unnecessarily mean on your birthday.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here Here to chris and carrie! Your birth is a wonderful gift from God! We cannot quit celebrating God's blessings because terrible sin exists.
Hope your birthday was great!

11:34 AM  
Blogger lyndsayslaten said...

woohoo!! i little 6th floor reunion!! well, all except for chris...sorry chris :)

thanks for "sticking up for me". you guys are awesome. truly.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

I agree with your whole 6th floor and Chris W., too! People like the anonymous #1 are usually the most self-centered of all. They want to bring everyone else down to their level.
YOU on the other hand are caring, selfless and sensitive to others needs...always. See...even in your next blog it is obvious that you are more concerned about his/her relationship with God than you are about the comments about you.
I thought your birthday comments honored God and your mother...how perfect! I just wish I had been here to celebrate with you!
proud to be your mother-in-law

8:17 AM  

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