Originally posted July 24, 2012, at Halstad Parish. Republished with permission of the author.
There are times when the events that happen outside of our community have the ability to affect us deeply, especially when they are as tragic as the shooting that happened recently in Aurora, Colo. The violence and evil shock us and we are left to try and make sense of the chaos. We are left with questions.
For some of those questions, there are armies of people already working to find the answers. This kind of disaster is also a crime scene and there are many kinds of law enforcement people doing their tasks to investigate, search out and catalogue all the bits and pieces that are the evidence.
The media is also searching for answers, but in today’s world, that search is more like an unorganized competition where getting an answer first sometimes seems more important than getting it validated. They cluster around the scene trying to get as close as they can to victims and their families and friends as well as hounding anyone who knows or has had contact with the one who did it.
With all these people working, we soon know what happened, where and when, and then we start knowing whom. The investigators are piecing together the answers to how it happened. But there is one question left, the big one.
It’s a huge question because it encompasses so much. Why did the shooter do it? Why this theater, this movie? Victims and families ask, why did this person live and this person die?
We confront God with the biggest question: Why, God? Why do you allow this to happen?
Soon, someone somewhere will say that this is all God’s punishment for our godlessness or whatever sin is their pet peeve. It happened after Oklahoma City, it happened after 9/11, and after Hurricane Katrina. It’s not the gospel that Jesus teaches, but some people seem to find pleasure in using tragedy to judge others.
Such messages can be attractive because they seem to give an answer to that biggest question. There is a reason that this happened and we are reassured that God is in control. It is the same kind of comfort that people try to give when someone we love has died. There is a reason. God is in control.
If we can blame someone or something, even God, then we are closer to making sure it doesn’t happen to us. We like things to have a reason. It lessens the chaos and confusion in our lives.
In Mark 6:30-34, Jesus tries to take the disciples and himself away for rest from their work, but the people see where they are going and by the time the boat gets to the deserted place, a great crowd of people are already there, waiting for Jesus.
They are overwhelmed by the chaos in their lives, things they have no answers for and no control over. They need help, they need answers, and they need love. And Jesus has compassion for them. He sees they are like sheep without a shepherd — meaning they have no one looking out for them, caring for them, keeping them safe. So Jesus begins to teach and heal them.
Jesus sees all these people who have followed him with all their needs and questions and reaches out. He looks on them with love and becomes their shepherd.
They have followed him out into the wilderness probably without a lot of preparation or thought to simple things like where and how will they eat or find water. In fact, in the verses following these, Jesus feeds them all, more than 5,000, with a small boy’s lunch. They have come with needs and Jesus cares for them.
If only Jesus were here today, right? Wouldn’t that make things easier? Doesn’t this last week just make you wish you could be in that crowd with Jesus? We need Jesus too!
And Jesus is here, right here, with us today, right now, in this place, with us and in us. We are not alone. And he is here, teaching us too, giving us his answers and giving us hope.
Jesus looks at us, with all our questions and doubts, with all our faults and failings, our shortcomings, and our stubbornness and holds us in love. It is here. For you! Right now. And that is as true and real as it gets. Jesus is here in love — for you.
But even when we don’t have answers, we do have hope. For no matter what is happening around us, we have the promise and hope that we are held in God’s love. And there is nothing strong enough, or evil enough, or big enough or bad enough to separate us from that love. Nothing. Not lone gunmen, or terrorists, or evil plots, or wars, or diseases, or the chaos of our lives.
God is here. God is with you and stays with you. God goes with you in love, wherever you go. And God loves you, forgives you, and gives you peace, even when we can’t know or understand the whys of what happens around us. God’s love outlasts and out bests everything. Read Romans 8:35-39.
Find a link to Christine Iverson’s entry on the blog Halstad Parish at Lutheran Blogs.