Lord Be Near — Finding God In Our Trials
shared with permission from:
I remember being afraid of the dark as a child. It was that feeling of not knowing if something was coming, because I could not identify sounds and shapes, no matter how hard my eyes strained at the corners of my room.
Now I am grown, and the shadows scare me less than the broad daylight, where we gather in the common square to learn, to relax or travel, to recreate, to worship. I am talking, of course, about the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, and those sufficiently scarred into recent memory that we wonder if we can ever go outside in confidence again. How does one heal from such wounds? Is our only recourse to become hardened? Are there any comforts for a mother who sends her family into the world every day?
I am inspired by the words of Eric Humes, resident of Las Vegas, Nevada:
The month of October 2017 changed American life following the Las Vegas Route 91 tragedy. People have been moved. Scars have healed and been picked at again. Usually as chaos breaks out, the public asks, “Where is God?” In Las Vegas, we found God in hugs, service and donations.
My family and I were personally affected. Friends of mine were either murdered, shot, or traumatized. The pain still aches in my heart for a friend who was murdered. I still remember the shock and disbelief when I first heard that he was gone.
One of the hardest moments was the morning after the tragedy. What do you say to a victim’s family? What do you not say? Should you go by their house? It seems to go by in a blur, and then the funeral comes. I remember the Spirit of Love being so palpable, real and comforting. I was thinking about being there for the family, but I remember the outpouring of love from his family, who comforted us. My body can still feel their warm embrace as we cried together.
A funeral is not our only means to “mourn with those that mourn.” There are many ways. The tributes do feel good. The smiles seem to beam a little brighter. Ice cream gets eaten a lot more often! We rejoice in the legacy left.
But life moves on, and it is difficult to find a new rhythm. It helps to focus on the current needs of others. My work had planned, long before the shooting had happened, to go and help feed the homeless at a food kitchen run by a local Episcopal church. Serving together with others helped us all to heal, and to feel close to each other.
The world is moving faster, and God is finding ways to love us. All of us need a belief that God ultimately loves us and that our time here is short. What difference can we make today? We can love someone the way God wants us to, today. We can look for tears that need tissue to dry. We can smile for the small joys.
I love Eric's sentiment that although things are moving faster in modern life, "God is finding ways to love us." How remarkable to think that he could feel His love in such tragedy, in such loss. It reminds me of the words we read back in April from Alissa Parker, who lost her daughter, Emilie, in the Sandy Hook shooting:
There is so much about the shooter’s life that is still unknown. I will never know why he did what he did and how accountable he is for his actions...but I learned that this doesn’t matter. Our Savior knows all, and has suffered for all.... [B]ecause he has already so lovingly [sic] carried that burden for us, we don’t have to! As soon as I realized this, peace flooded into my heart.
The things we don't know—the who, the when, and the why of our worst fears—must not be permitted to overshadow the things that we do know. Psalm 91 has given solace to many during this time. While there may be “terror by night” and “destruction that wasteth at noon day,” our faith can conquer our fear. Christ is at the heart of our courage. “He shall cover [us] with his feathers, and under his wings [shall we] trust” (Psalm 91).
Max Lucado writes of these tragedies:
"REAL COURAGE EMBRACES THE TWIN REALITIES OF CURRENT DIFFICULTY AND ULTIMATE TRIUMPH. [HERE] STANDS THE LEVEL-HEADED, CLEAR-THINKING, STILL-BELIEVING PERSON OF FAITH. WIDE-EYED, YET UNAFRAID. UNTERRIFIED BY THE TERRIFYING. THE CALMEST KID ON THE BLOCK, NOT FOR LACK OF BULLIES, BUT FOR FAITH IN OUR HEAVENLY FATHER."
Somehow, even though we know tragedy and loss come to us in life, we must not live skittish, sideways-glancing lives. Rather, let us firmly settle ourselves in a knowledge of our Lord. We can smile for the small joys, break out the cartons of ice cream more often, and serve alongside our neighbors. Rest assured, even in our trials, God is finding ways to love us.
If you'd like to find a way to remember those affected by the Route 91 tragedy, you can purchase this beautiful "Lord Be Near" sign shown above from @houseofboysandbeauty. Proceeds will be donated to a victim of the shooting.