Contemplating Christmas: Tragedy

 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.
Matthew 2:18

At Christmas, we tend to focus mainly on the marvelous wonder of the birth of Christ and the celebration of the shepherds and the wise men.  Rarely do we ever think of the enormous pain that was left in the wake of His coming when a jealous rage prompted King Herod to order the murder of innocent children in an attempt to kill the newborn King.  When you really think about it, the juxtaposition of the joy of the Holy family and the pain of those whose children were torn from them is difficult to absorb.  Standing in the shadow of our own Christmas celebrations, Matthew’s Old Testament quote has an eerie parallel to yesterday’s murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The question still on everyone’s mind is “why?”  I heard a news commentator take it one step further and ask the inevitable question “Why would God allow this to happen?”  Asking that  question at all attempts to pin the blame on God and questions His goodness and mercy.   Isn’t it curious that our society which seems to try so hard to erase God from the picture of public life is so quick to point accusing fingers at Him when the unthinkable happens?  And is it any wonder that we have godless atrocities when people are driven to remove His influence completely?  While we may never get an answer to our questions about the motive behind the taking of so many innocents, we can be confidant of one thing.  Senseless tragedy and horrific violence don’t come from the heart of our loving Heavenly Father.

Jesus warned us about the heartbreak and difficulty that would frequently assault our lives.  He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But He quickly followed that statement by saying to His followers, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) He was reminding us that we will always face crazy, unexplainable stuff in a world where sin, the flesh, and the devil run rampant. There will always be pain, suffering and trauma that we can’t explain, but only through Jesus Christ, we can ever hope to overcome the imprint of fear and hopelessness these tragedies threaten to leave on us.  Blaming God or attempting to define Him through our flawed analysis of the events of the world will only lead to confusion, bewilderment, and despair.

A life of faith requires believers to look at situations differently, and to resist the temptation to put the blame in the wrong place.  We have plenty of evidence in the Bible and in our lives every day that proves God is trustworthy and good. As a result, we can be confidant that His love and grace are unchanged toward us, even when circumstances defy explanation.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.  
Psalm 100:5

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