Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Home for the Holidays

It feels so good to be home. My Dad and my little sister met me at the airport, all of our checked baggage made it, there were FOUR DOZEN cookies waiting at home, and we went to church the next day. Tonight, I am going to make cookies at Nathan's house; this afternoon my family is decorating the tree. Many of the people I graduated with are arriving home as well. They are posting pictures of gift wrapping (I really need to do some of that), and those that are not home yet are lamenting finals. Our small town has a decidedly holiday feel; there are lights all over and shop windows are festively decorated, and Christmas pageants are happening in churches. I love this time of year. Everything just feels homier, friendlier, more wonderful. Every day I am reminded of the overwhelming blessings I have been given.

Unfortunately, this Christmas season has a shadow of sadness over it. The tragedy in Connecticut breaks my heart. Every day it breaks my heart again. Such unspeakable sadness is unimaginable to me. The victim's families are feeling anguish and despair this season. Those children and teachers will not be home for the holidays. Their parents have probably already bought Christmas presents, perhaps family was coming to visit, many of them may have been angels or sheep or shepherds in their Nativity pageants. While the grief I feel for those children, teachers, and their families is heavy-I also feel grief for the shooter's family. Although he killed his mother, his other living relatives must be feeling pain as well. It would be truly awful to know that your child, nephew, grandson, brother had caused such pain and violence.

As I have thought over this, I have cried out to God. This was not God's will. Oftentimes, when people hear about tragedies, they say that it was God's will. God's will is not to hurt us. Satan plants evil into the world. He relishes in the pain and grief of these families. I am sure that God and his angels are saddened just as the entire nation has been saddened. Jesus knows our pain. He was human-he knows every emotion and feeling that we experience.

I work with elementary aged children, and I see God in them every day. Five and six year olds are so pure-they haven't even really started life yet. They know only a fraction of the bad that lives in the world. They can always find the good. One of the children I work with often talks to me while he is eating snack. He says, "Miss Sydney, did you know that God is the king of everything? He has all the power. Even more power than you." Although I cannot perpetuate his beliefs, (I work in a public school), I smile at his boldness and assuredness. Jesus desires that we have belief like small children. All of the kiddos that lost their lives are surely in God's embrace. I am not a parent, but I can imagine that if I lost a child it would be hard to continue to find the strength to wake up every day let alone continue day to day life. I hope that I would find some small amount of solace in the fact that my child was with God- a place that all Christians live to be in someday.

Phillipians 4:7 says that God gives peace that passes all understanding. In the face of events such as this that seem insurmountable; events that seem impossible to understand and wrap our heads around- God promises peace. It will take power as mighty as our Creator's to give any measure of peace to these victim's families and loved ones. Every night since the shooting happened I have been awake in bed praying that those affected will know peace and they will know love. I pray that they will know the love of an entire nation that has poured out and wrapped them up, and that they will know the love of a savior that wants only to redeem them and heal this pain.

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