Oh God, I sit here at my table, sipping my coffee, children safely sleeping and the tears won’t stop.  Other moms went to bed–probably not to sleep–in tragedy and wake up in tragedy.  There is no rest in pain and grief.  Only you have the power for hope and solace at such a time as this.

An unexpected day off, I spent most of Friday busy at home.  No TV, no radio, no social media.  Even when MB and I ventured out shopping, we  sequestered ourselves in our own little mother-daughter world.  Cinnabons and Caribou Coffee and which store to hit next were our only concerns.  We remained blissfully unaware of the life-changing, earth-shattering events happening in our own beloved country.

Oh, to go back.

The intense pain each of those grieving parents, friends, family and community members are experiencing is beyond comprehension.

Oh, to go back to Thursday.  But there is no returning.  There is no going back.

So, I sit here this morning, praying and weeping and reading from Creighton’s advent readings and try to plan worship for tomorrow.  I search the past week, looking for hope and something appropriate.  I look at tomorrow’s readings (the 3rd week) and the first words I see are “Rejoice in the Lord, always: again, I say, rejoice.  Indeed, the Lord is near.” taken from Philippians 4.

Are you kidding me, God?  Rejoice?  In the face of senseless death and pain and destruction? IN the midst of grief and tragedy?

I don’t know.  There’s so much I don’t know.  Don’t understand.  Is there hope for the families grieving?  Is there hope for the community?  Is there hope for a country in pain and at odds?

Whether you read your Bible often or don’t even own one, please read this entire passage.  From the prophet Jeremiah in his Lamentations (emphasis mine):

I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of his wrath.
He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.

He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.
He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.
He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.

He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.
Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.
He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.

Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,
he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.
He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.

He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.
I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.
He has filled me with bitter herbs
and sated me with gall.

He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.

Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.

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.

I want to hope.  Not just for myself, but for those devastated families.   It just hurts.  And I don’t get it.  And I don’t have answers.  My hope seems faint this morning.

But this I remember and therefore, I have hope-no matter how dim: because of God’s love for us in Jesus, we aren’t consumed or left to fend for ourselves.  His Mercy, Grace and Love never fail.

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