For the very first time, I'm having a guest writer post on Just Julie. And what better person than my beautiful roommate, Jenna, with her reflections from this morning after yesterday's horrific tragedy.
How wonderful that, despite evil and darkness on this Earth, we can look to our Heavenly Father and find peace, joy, and hope through His goodness and salvation!
Why I Have Joy This Morning
"Yesterday was supposed to be a normal day—spending a little time in the office, getting my bangs trimmed, shopping with my mom, meeting with a student, going to a Christmas party—and all of those things did happen. Yet in the midst of all of my activities, I was struck with the same news that the rest of the country was facing: almost 30 people were killed by a young man in an elementary school.
I got the phone call shortly after this horrific event hit the news, and was asked what we do as a church in times like this. How does the Church respond to such tragedy? How do we gather? How to we react as faithful people? What are we going to do?
It’s easy to get news like we all did yesterday, to live in shock for a short while, and then to move on with the rest of our day like it was just another day.
For some people, it was, and that's ok.
But not for me.
One of my friends tweeted yesterday something like “the world is such a broken place”. I stared at her tweet for a good two minutes, speechless. That’s not something that I don’t know. People are hurting, starving, aching, and crying out for redemption, reconciliation, and healing. We pass them on the side of the road. They sit in the cubicle beside us in the office. We stand behind them in line at lunch. Our children are on their soccer teams. We learn with them in school. We make fun of them, and tease them, yet are sometimes wonderfully bent to love them.
I feel that same brokenness, myself, on a lot of days during the week. My heart gets broken, my feelings get hurt. My self-esteem is tested and my nerves are shaken. Yesterday, I joined with millions of people in our country in grief and sorrow for the terrible loss of life that we experienced as a nation.
This morning, I woke from a sound sleep with hope and peace, and spent a lot of time reflecting on why I have such certainty in the goodness and graciousness and love of my God.
Perhaps it is because it is the Advent Season I can rely so heavily on my God for such peace. I woke this morning in the promise that Christ not only had come to earth for me in the past, or that he is coming in the future, but that Christ lives and breathes in the world today. I join with others around the country (and the world) in grief and sorrow, but I also join with others around the country in anxious awaiting and preparation of my heart for the coming of Christ at Christmas.
Perhaps I can rely so heavily on my God for such peace because I am not alone in my brokenness. Yes, my friend, the world is a very broken place. But I find joy in that Christ took on that very same brokenness—rejection by those he loved, torture, name-calling, starvation, human failure—so that evil, suffering, and death will never have the last word. Where, O death is your victory? Where is your sting?
When I was in kindergarten, I was completely unaware of the evils of this world. The kindergarteners that I work with at the church now are also that innocent. Their eyes have seen hurting and pain, but they cannot understand (like me!) the horrible things that happen on our earth, in our country.
Yesterday, I thought of those children in Newtown and I wept. I wept for their mothers and fathers, their friends and classmates, their brothers and sisters, and the entire community. And then I wept for the children that I love and care so deeply for in my own life. I had to convince myself not to go to every school in Frisco to tell my students from my youth group never to give up their hope.
Because, though we are all broken, there is always hope in Christ! He, who was born into a poor family, raised by parents who were just doing the best they could (what parent doesn’t understand that feeling?), took on our pain and suffering. He even took on death for all humanity so that death does not have the last word.
Because during this season we are constantly reminded that Christ came to us so meekly as tiny child. We are perhaps more devastated by the loss yesterday in Newtown of such innocent, sweet children because we are living so close to that memory. We are constantly reminded of that babe that came to save us from ourselves, a tiny child whose parents wondered what he would be like as he grew up. Would he, too, be a carpenter like his father? I wonder if Mary ever imagined the brokenness Jesus might have endured; brokenness she never could have protected him from.
But because of this brokenness that Christ willingly took on for me, I have hope and peace this morning. Evil does not have the last word. Death is not the end!
I think death might have been the end if Christ only died for us; thank God that the story doesn’t end there! No, Christ also rose for us. Right up out of the ground, he who was once dead was suddenly alive, in the flesh! This resurrection was not just miraculous because it seems physically impossible; it is miraculous because it points us to the new life that we are all promised in Christ.
I don’t know what those sweet children are experiencing right now after their untimely deaths yesterday. I’m not sure what heaven is like, and I’m less sure that Jesus looks like those pictures that are floating around on Facebook and Instagram right now. But what I do know is that those children, and we as faithful people, have been promised new life. Rebirth. End of bodily pain. We’ve been promised a time when there are no more tears or sorrow, a time and place when we will all be whole again.
And that’s why I’ve such joy this morning.
Our God is still a good, sovereign God. Our God is still a loving and gracious God. I believe that our God wept with us yesterday, experiencing brokenness with us once more, and I believe that our God was with us then, is with us now, and will continue to be with us forever.
This morning, I thank God for my life and the lives of those I hold so dear. I thank God for the cross, and the resurrection. And I thank God that in all things, I never have to go through the pains of this world alone."
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