By Ashley McIlwain
Everyone is talking about the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. The nation was left in shock as we witnessed a display of pure horror and evil. A community was left stunned and brokenhearted as their members were left picking up the pieces in the moments following their worst nightmare. Parents have found themselves devastated by the loss of their precious little ones. No matter how you look at it, we can all agree that no one will ever be the same after the horrendous acts of that day.
Most people have been trying to make sense of what happened. I know I have a ton of questions. I want answers to some very pressing and hard questions. The truth is, there really aren’t going to be any answers that will satiate my soul’s sorrow.
Yet, amidst something as tragic and devastating as this, I find myself reminded that there is hope for the hopeless.
I was sitting praying for God’s comfort and peace to fall upon the victims’ families and that Connecticut community. The thought of presents bought for all of those little kids that would remain unopened broke my heart. Christmas seems like the cruelest of times to have something so horrendous happen. But then I couldn’t help but feel a sense of peace come over me as it seems Christmas is the very beacon of hope shining through the dark cloud of evil that made its presence known.
Christmas is a time of hope. It’s a season of comfort and joy. It’s a message of peace, and a Savior who loves us more than we’ll ever know – like that of a loving parent.
What’s amazing about the story of Christmas and the life of Jesus is that God is not off in some far-off galaxy where He’s inaccessible and deaf to our cries. In fact, that’s why Jesus came to earth, to experience that which we’ve all experienced – pain, sorrow, temptation, hardship. He knows what it’s like because He’s experienced it. Matthew 1:23 tells us, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” That says it all … God is with us!
It’s not about earning His love. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” He loves us so much (Ephesians 2:4), and while many think of God as a “bully,” He didn’t “send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). God is a loving, nurturing, protective Father who is with us in all situations giving us the strength we need to get through the pains of this world (Isaiah 40:31).
I wish there were simple answers to this life’s tragedies, complexities, hardships, and struggles, but there just aren’t. There are times where things make no sense, and we can’t find the silver lining. We will have times of sorrow and weeping. There will be moments where we are left feeling in complete despair.
But when there are no answers, there is still hope. I know this because I’ve personally experienced it. I’m not trying to preach at you; I simply want to share with you the strength I’ve found when I’m completely weak. The joy I’ve found when I’ve known only sorrow. The peace I’ve found amidst turmoil and tragedy. It’s not some impersonal, hypothetical message I want to share. It’s a firsthand account of the hope I’ve personally discovered, even in times like these … Jesus.
John 16:33 says, “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.”
Why do bad things happen? Because evil exists in the world. Unfortunately, we will face troubles, despair, heartache, and weeping. There are moments where it will feel like your next breath is an insurmountable task. Sometimes getting out of bed will seem futile and impossible. In those moments I would encourage you to realize that you’re not alone. There’s still hope. God cares about YOU! Simply cry out to Jesus. He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
He also promises us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Psalm 34:18 encourages us that, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Sometimes there are no words of comfort that are sufficient. We find ourselves in the wake of tragedies that leave our hearts broken and our heads whirling. While there may not be any answers to our questions, there’s a Great Comforter who promises to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). I would encourage you, in your darkest of hours, reach out to the one Hope we all have … a loving Savior who has made Himself available to us at all times and in all situations.
Come near to God and He will come near to you. –James 4:8