We woke yesterday morning to news of horrendous tragedy. Again, we utter prayers that plead for victims and families, to those who will forever be changed because of one man’s horrific actions.
Our responses are similar, I’m sure.
“How could this happen?”
“There are no words.”
“We are heartbroken, praying for those in Vegas.”
“What is happening to our world?”
As I watched Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie speak to a guest about the shooting, I think Savannah put words to what so many of us were thinking. She said no matter the security measures and efforts of so many safety workers, “if someone has evil in their hearts, [and is set to carry it out] it is often so hard to prevent it.”
Did you hear it? Evil, in this instance, has won. Circumstances were out of our control. This is what churns up fear in my life. It’s why I wrote a book with strong themes about overcoming fear. And yet, just when I think I’ve come to a deeper level of resting faith, a deeper understanding of how to conquer fear and evil and relinquish my need for control, I turn on my television to see another case where, it would seem, evil has won.
I want that control. That assurance that if I’m at the wheel, all will be well. Yet when we are faced with tragedies such as the one that occurred Sunday night, when we are faced with severe hurricane damage, when we are faced with news that someone we love has just Od’d, we are also faced with the reality that we really have no control at all.
Some people ask me why I write what I write. My books are not sweet and they are not fluffy. Yet they definitely carry a message that I feel is important. While I can appreciate a sweet romance, I am also acutely aware of the growing fear in the world in which we live. I work part-time at a pharmacy. I know just how many of us need anti-anxiety pills to make it through the day. I’m not judging—far from it. I get it.
I get that this is our reality right now. Struggling with what life brings. Captivated with things inside our computer screens or phones or televisions, immersed in the next tragedy. The world is telling us a message, and it’s not an easy one to hear.
Things are not getting better.
Despite our technology, despite our comfortable homes and air-conditioned cars, it seems, in many ways, the world is going crazy. And if you blink—or turn on your television again—you will see it only seems to get worse.
More scary, perhaps, is what’s going on in my own heart. I am ashamed to admit that my heart is getting accustomed to this hard place. I am not quite so shocked to turn on the news and hear of the next tragedy. Yes, I shed my tears and utter heartfelt prayers for the victims, but something is lost as well. An innocence of sorts.
So why do I write about the difficult?
Not just to immerse myself in the lives of those who have walked this road of suffering, but for another reason as well. A reason that is so much larger and bigger than its simple, unassuming four letters.
How many of us, beneath our newsfeeds and political leanings, beneath our broken families and addictions, beneath our medications and the mess of our own hearts (never mind the mess of those around us) need this hope? I know I do. In fact, I’m not sure I could begin to breathe one day without it.
The funny thing about hope and good news is that it shines more brightly even in the darkness. So when I write about a bombing or a historical war, when I write about the unspeakable actions of a family member or a heart torn apart by addiction and suffering, know that in part, it is what I relate to. It’s where despair tends to trip me up in this messy, broken world.
BUT there is hope. And that is where I choose to cling.
There will be a day when grace triumphs over all. When death and anger and hurting and fear and sadness are no more. Where victory is truer and sweeter because of the mess we’ve lived in.
I pray you are comforted by the following words, said by the God-man who brought that special four-letter word to the world over 2,000 years ago. He knew I’d need to hear these words now, today.
And I’m trusting He knew you might, as well.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
~ John 16:33
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:3-10