What to do when the world seems so bleak
I've scoured the web for encouragement just like you have. Tragedies seem to bring out the "best" of our emotional makeup and God-given "wiring." You and I are not robots…we are not "unfeeling machines." The best I can see it is that our collective mourning and anger at these type of events that happened in a small town on the east coast of our country show us just one more reason why we were created by a loving God and how our hearts have been designed to feel at peace in a world where justice, love and right-ness prevail and are the norm. It is also proof why all of us have a knee-jerk reaction to events where it is obvious that something is broken – humanity is broken, the world is shattered…everyone and everything (as Paul said in the New Testament) is yearning for redemption. But for now, we look for answers…we search for justification…we seek comfort and some sort of "heavenly hug" of assurance that the life is going to be OK when it is obvious that it is not. Every person feels that…every person goes through the same reactions. We live in shock and we try to make sense of that which is senseless. We attempt to wrestle with evil and come up, like most who have done so throughout history, walking with a limp because evil is powerful and touches everyone's life in some degree large or small.
So, what I've done for today is share with you some thoughts I've seen throughout the blogs and articles that I've read. I love the fact that we can seek for truth together. And remember, when we seek truth in any and all situations, we are seeking Jesus. Jesus is LIVING truth and He promises that those who seek Him will find Him. You look for anger, you'll find it. You look for devastation you will find that too. You seek peace and truth and comfort, guess what? Jesus is there!
So, listen and pray…in my book, that's the best we can do together in the face of any evil, pain or tragedy that we cannot understand:
From my friend, Kirsten Carlson - "How do we proceed? Again, I have no answers, but this I vow: I will not allow evil to control me or take all hope from my soul. I will continue to wake every morning and go out into this world with the mission of loving those around me. I will not hide in shadows or barricade myself behind locked doors, hoping to make it through this life unharmed and unnoticed. No, I will go forth and try my best to shine with the light of love, and as much as it terrifies me at times, I will teach my children to do the same, because God does not call us to live sheltered lives, instead He calls us to go OUT into the world and be His light in the darkness."
From Holly Gerth's blog – "What you can tell your heart when the world seems dark…"The only way to get rid of darkness is to add more light. And God, you are the light of the world. We need you to shine, especially now."
From Anne Voscamp - "The answer to our suffering is so incomprehensible that it has to be incarnated – the Word must come to us as flesh."
Kurt Onken - "…it takes time for the clouds of grief to break and to see the light of Christ clearly through tears and sadness."
From Brenna Phillips - "Dear God, Please protect these families. Comfort these families. Place your healing hand on these people in the town and surrounding areas. May You speak to their hearts like You've never spoken before. May they all feel Your warmth and glory. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen."
Brian Walsh - "We just can't find the right words to give voice to our deepest longings. We find ourselves reduced to inarticulate groans, moaning, sighing, weeping, and sometimes sitting before God in silence - and often a frustrated silence - because we just don't know what to say. We find ourselves at a loss for words.And if you find yourself inarticulate before God, if you find yourself unable to find the words to say, then weep, sigh, mutter, moan, and maybe even, sit in silence."
Rachel Held Evans - "God can be wherever God wants to be. God needs no formal invitation. We couldn't "systematically remove" God if we tried.
If the incarnation teaches us anything, it's that God can be found everywhere: in a cattle trough, on a throne, among the poor, with the sick, on a donkey, in a fishing boat, with the junkie, with the prostitute, with the hypocrite, with the forgotten, in places of power, in places of oppression, in poverty, in wealth, where God's name is known, where it is unknown, with our friends, with our enemies, in our convictions, in our doubts, in life, in death, at the table, on the cross, and in every kindergarten classroom from Sandy Hook to Shanghai.
God cannot be kept out. And although my doubt and anger make it hard for me to believe today, I will keep lighting those little Advent candles like a religious fool until they help me in my unbelief. May their flames be a reminder to all of us that we don't have to know why God let this happen to know that God was there…. and here, and in those swaddling clothes, and on that cross, and in that grave, and on the throne. For no amount of darkness can overcome the light. I think it's important to recognize that we all grieve in different ways. We find ourselves in different stages and manifestations of that grief-disbelief, anger, stunned silence, the need to do something, the need to exert some kind of control in a world that seems so desperately out of control-and so we have to be patient with one another, gracious when our grief takes different forms. When someone very close to me died a few years ago, I remember my dad telling me that it's important to allow people to grieve in ways that don't necessarily make sense to me. It's important not to correct people whose grief takes a different form than my own, he said. So let's grieve together. And let's give one another the space to be shocked, to be pissed, to appeal to God, to be angry with God, to find peace in God, to question God, to want to take action, to want to wait, to blame, to pray, to be afraid, to be speechless, to vent, to lament, to speak up, to be silent, to pull our families close to us, to need some time alone.
Peter Enns - "But, at times like this three disconnected thoughts come to my mind.
(1) There are many wonderful and beautiful things about the world we live in, but things are also seriously and undeniably [feel free to use the predicate adjective of your choice].
(2) If you believe in God, there will always come a point-and sooner than we tend to think-where our understanding hits a wall at 80 mph.
(3) The way of sorrow and pain is built into the Christian story, particularly the suffering of innocents: the Gospel claims that God himself took part in suffering and death."