Thoughts on Hope, God’s Presence, and Sandy Hook.

SC Hebrews 135The tragedy last Friday in Newtown, CT has left everyone searching for answers, comfort, reason, and stability.  The brutal murder of 28 people – 20 of them children – set off a firestorm of debate between people concerning gun laws, American rights, mental health, the safety of our schools, and the downgrade of our society.  In this mix of debate rose questions about God – where was He during this tragedy, why didn’t He stop this, how could He let 20 innocent kids die, etc.

All around, people were quick to answer … sometimes way too quick.  However, I think the questions and debates raised were good, in that they forced us to deal with an ever-present reality: we live in dark times and in need of hope.

Our Hope

To the world, man fulfills and brings hope to all in need, including themselves.  The world’s hope is self-driven and self-attained.  We rely on the things of this world to bring us hope and assurance; we tell ourselves things will be “OK” because we’re going to make them “OK.”  The problem, however, with this type of hope is that it fails, falls short, and doesn’t truly fill the void we desperately need.  It is my belief that broken and faulty humans striving to live life on their own hope will always find themselves unfilled and unmoved by this hope.

To Christians, our hope is found in Christ alone (2 Corinthians 1:10).  What is passed onto us is not our own faulty hope, but a pure hope able to sustain us through every trial and event faced in our lives.  This hope – God’s hope eternal – fills up what we lack in our lives.  It gives us energy in weakness, stability in uncertainty, comfort in turmoil, and peace in chaos.  The hope of Christ tells us that we can’t walk this journey on our own merits, but that we need the presence of God leading and sustaining us.  The hope of Christ frees us to lay all our issues onto the shoulders of Him who is the only One to survive what we are facing.  The hope of Christ allows us to honestly say, “I can’t do this.  But through Him I can and will.”

The hope of Christ, unlike the hope of this world, is always with us.  No matter if we “feel” it or not, the hope of God – the presence of God – never leaves us alone … it is relentless.  And this is what has gotten us, and will continue to get us, through tragedies such as Sandy Hook, the death of a parent, or an unnamed pain that endures.

God is With Us

The question, “Where was God,” though a fair one to ask, bothers me.  In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, this question was asked over and again.  The answers given varied from insightful to flippant, great to horrible.  I read postings from Christians that turned this question into a rant rather than biblical-comfort and truth.  One of the most absurd answers that was given was about God getting angry and not coming to the rescue because He was booted from school.  School prayer outlawed + God not allowed in schools + God got angry = Sandy Hook shooting.  Really?  This is the character of God?

Our society continues to morally decline.  We live in a fallen world which continues to elevate “self” as a god to be worshipped.  In many ways, God has been asked to “take a hike” – in schools, government, families, and culture.  We face the issues we do today because we have allowed things to get to this point.  As Galatians 6:7 says, we reap what we have sown.  We have allowed ourselves to be influenced by the prince of this world rather than the God of all Creation.

However, God has not abandoned us, especially during times of trial.  Despite prayer being a no-no in public schools, despite the moral decay of our country, despite the idols we hold up above God, He never takes the promise of His presence from us.  God isn’t like a junior higher and storms off in anger when we don’t pay attention to Him.  God’s presence isn’t unstable and He is not insecure.  In fact, I will even say that I believe He chooses to ignore our suggestions to “take a hike,” for no other reason but that God is unlike us in every aspect.

God is with us – we have not been left on our own.

Though our world is fallen, God is still good to those who are just and unjust (Matthew 5:45, 6:11, James 1:17).  Though we reject His love, God will not reject His love for us (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).  Though we are faithless, God remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).  Though we are inconsistent, God remains constant, unchanged, unmoved, unhindered by the actions of mankind.  Though in this world we experience trouble, the Son of God has overcome the world (John 16:33).

He is the rock of our salvation and hope.  Upon Him we cannot fail; without Him we cannot stand.  Though tragedies like Sandy Hook may come, though we as a society continue to dismiss God our Creator, the hope of Christ never diminishes and the presence of God never abandon’s.  He will use everything and display His goodness through our pain.  God will mourn with us and for us; continuing to woo His creation back from the desert into paradise.

Immanuel: God is with us – always!

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