The Apostle Paul was inspired by God to write, “Mourn with those who mourn.” Following the loss of human life in schools like Newtown, CT., we as fellow citizens and especially as Christians are called to mourn with the families of those who died. We do well to mourn with few rather than more words.
However, as John Stonestreet brought to my attention, it becomes tempting in this fast-paced, technologically-driven society to Facebook or Twitter our thoughts. It appears that both Christians and non-Christians took advantage of their “freedom of speech” to make public political or moral comments on the situation. Many of the comments, it seems, were made with little thought of the families that simply need time to grieve. As Christians, we are always called upon to respect our fellow human beings. We are called to a higher standard. A standard of thoughtful behavior that is reflective of our holiness in Christ.
On Christmas, we celebrate the Incarnation. God became Man. The very Creator and Redeemer of all human life came into our messy, depraved, and broken world. He did more than hand us a book or tell us a story. He came in the flesh. He offered Himself. He sacrificed all that He had… for us.
Evil exists in our world because of sin. Our sinful flesh becomes a willing instrument of destruction in the hands of Satan. But, in Jesus Christ, we become new every morning. This means that we are given opportunity to reflect the God who made us rather than ourselves. We are equipped to make choices that help others rather than hurt them. As new people in Christ, we are called to act in a more holy way, wait on the Holy Spirit for His discernment and, when the time is right, speak the Truth in love.
There is a time to speak. The Christian is not called to silently allow non-believers and those who oppose the Biblical worldview to rule the day. We are to be well informed and ready to defend the faith. But, in times of tragedy, we are called first to mourn. Offer care and compassion. If given opportunity, we are to serve those who are facing adversity and trial in their lives. When possible, we can help carry a burden. Then, in whatever conversations crop up, we can help ourselves and others contrast the things of God with the things of this world. Good and evil are real. God and Satan daily do battle for our very souls.
It is for this reason that Jesus Christ came to live among us. He entered into the lives of sinful, broken and hurting people. Everything He said and did directed people away from self to God; away from despair to hope; away from evil to good. He knew when to speak and, when He did, He spoke The Word. He also knew when to grieve with those who mourned.
We might learn a valuable lesson from Job’s three friends. “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place . . . to show him sympathy and comfort him . . . they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great” (Job 2:11-13).
Suffering will be great in this world. But, Job’s friends did harm when they pontificated on what Job had done wrong to cause such suffering. We, too, do wrong when we place blame or fail to remember that God works in the midst of trouble to lead us to Him or refine our faith. When we are perplexed in affliction, may we – through the eyes of faith – see Christ, whose affliction saved us from sin and eternal despair. May we be silenced by the awe of such sacrifice.
But, when asked how to prepare for such evil as a school shooting, may we speak up with the answer: Tell your children and grandchildren about Jesus.
Only in Christ the Savior can any child — of any age — know victory over evil, suffering or even death.