As I write this, more details are emerging about the terrible shootings at Ft. Hood that killed at least 12 and wounded more than 32 others. Worse still is that these killings and injuries were from another soldier - a brother in arms who betrayed those that trusted him.
It is during times like these that people ask that bitter question - Why?
Why did my son, my brother, my sister, my father, my mother, my friend have to die? They had so much still to live for - why? Why oh God did you let this happen? What will I do, what about my children? Why, oh God, why? I tried to live a good life, why did you let them die - why did you do this to me?
And there is silence. Really, what is there to say? No words can comfort those that are in such grief. I know. When my daughter Rebecca died - I was right there, lost in waves of grief asking Why?
Well meaning friends and family that say that those that died are in a "better place" miss the mark. We know that they are with the Lord but we want them with us. It's selfish but we don't care - we're human. We're stuck in this world and we want our loved ones with us.
Oddly enough, sometimes the silence is best. Having a friend or family sit with you. Just sitting and listening - is of comfort. Knowing that you are not alone with your grief and that people are praying for you - it helps. It does not make sense but just knowing that prayers are being said for you - helps.
But silence from our God is different. We want answers. God is all-powerful. Why didn't he just stop this terrible thing from happening? This stuff about free will is a bunch of hooey when this is the result. We want answers and more than that - we want our will to be done. Turn back time, bring our loved ones back!
And there is silence.
And we wail and cry and rail against the injustice of it all. We lament our loss until we are finally spent. There is just no more. No more tears, no more screams, even our mind is finally done swirling. We just lie there - literally empty.
In the silence.
And then, God willing, thoughts return. Fragments of memory, words of comfort.
For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
1 Thessalonians 4:13
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.
God willing, we pick ourselves up and somehow make it through the day. And the next and the next. We hope for the world to end but it doesn't and yet we still are able to stumble on. Eventually, we carve out a new life. Not the one we expected, or the one we want, but a new life anyway. The pain lessens but never really goes away. It is a hidden scar - no one can see it except for the few that know.
Again God willing, we move beyond the question of Why? - which has no answer. We move to What do you want me to learn from this?
It will be different for everyone.
For me, I learned that God can turn good even out of what others intend for evil. That is magnificence of God that the Devil will never get. Joseph's brothers intended him evil when they threw him in the pit and sold him to slavery. Joseph languished in prison for years and yet he remained faithful. And God raised him out of prison and set him in a position where he eventually saved many Egyptians from death and even his own people - even his brothers that intended him evil.
Because of Rebecca's death, our family's faith became stronger and I was able to talk to my parents more freely about Jesus and my Mom came back to Christianity and my father was baptized.
Do I still wish that my Becca was alive? Of course! I'm still human. But knowing that she is in heaven encouraging all of us - it makes heaven a little more inviting.
From suffering should come meaning if we ask the right question - and it is not Why?
I pray that those who have suffered from this tragedy in Ft. Hood receive a comfort that is beyond our understanding. That they emerge from this stronger in their faith rather than led away from it.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.