Thursday, December 27, 2012

Love Conquers Insanity

photo from Wikipedia "Sandy Hook Elem. School Shooting"

 Essentially it has been three weeks since the heart-stopping rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Quiet comments heard everywhere included the words, "This is insane."  There is no good reason to motivate someone to do this.  There is no justification for it.  There is no peace—only pain.  

            Surrounding the time of this insanity, joy and hope filled the streets decorated for Christmas.  Perhaps the contrast darkened the situation at Sandy Hook a little bit more, but probably not—that event cloaked itself enough in black mourning clothes.  So, did the opposite happen?  Did the tragedy darken your Christmas?

            I was blessed this year with having all my children, children-in-law, and grandchild with me for the Christmas season as well as having a refreshing time with much of my extended family.  Even so, thoughts of these other mothers* came to mind.  They had to stare at Christmas presents under a brightly decorated tree that would never be opened by the child whose name danced across its label.  With tear stained cheeks, they strained to hear stirrings of little feet trying to sneak out of bed Christmas Eve.  They prayed both for the morning to come quickly so the lonely misery of Christmas Eve would end and for the morning to never come so they would not have to endure a giggle-free Christmas morning.  I pray that I never have to live through their misery, whether it is at Christmas time or any other time of the year.

            Unfortunately, although I cannot say, "I know what you are going through," too many other mothers can.  Ask the mothers in Rwanda or Croatia in recent years.  Ask the mothers, especially the Jewish mothers, in Nazi Germany.  Ask the mothers in Israel living at the birth of our A.D. calendar. 

            At the time of this latter event, King Herod of Judea learned from distinguished visitors to his land that they were seeking the King of the Jews, who, by all signs, had recently been born.  Horrified, the reigning king shortly after sent out a decree to kill all male children two years old and younger living in or near Bethlehem in an attempt to make sure he eliminated the promised one. (Luke 2:1-16)  Insanity. 

            Warned ahead of time, Joseph had lovingly taken young Jesus and Jesus' mother Mary to Egypt to escape whatever fury King Herod may choose to release.  What about the others?  The countless others who were ripped from their mothers' arms and mercilessly slaughtered in front of their families.  Insanity.  I cannot imagine the horror that must have filled the streets, especially for those—and I assume this to be the majority—that had no idea that a new "king" had been born.  I doubt the soldiers supplied any type of reason why the king had ordered this murdering rampage.  Confused, these mothers figuratively had their hearts ripped from their chests.  They would understand the pain of the mothers in Newtown, Connecticut.

            The question left is, "Does God understand?"  Where is He in all this?  Despite my inability to truly know the answers to these questions, I do know where he was.  He was
lying in a manger after his birth.  He was hunted by King Herod and was on-the-run with Joseph and Mary.  As a human adult, he was flogged and beaten until he was nearly lifeless.  Then he was nailed to a cross where this sinless being willingly and lovingly died.  He understands what it is like to be attacked although he was innocent of wrong doing.

            You might be saying, "Wait, a minute.  Aren't you talking about Jesus?"  Yes, I am.  Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God in the flesh.  There is one god who manifests himself (or shows himself or functions) as three:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Although Jesus is God, he is not the totality of God, otherwise everything else would have fallen apart if God had allowed his total being to be trapped in one place at one time.  Thus, Jesus is the Son (part) of God.  While the Son walked as a human, the Father (and Holy Spirit) was over everything and everyone.  (I am not a theologian, but this is the best way I can explain it.)

            The point is:  God is here with us.  He even physically walked among us for a time.  He does understand.  Yet, there are many things I cannot comprehend.  I do not understand why he did not stop the mad man that killed the children in Sandy Hook or one that killed the children in Israel at the time of Jesus' birth.  I also do not understand why he willingly put on the restrictive confines of a human body.  I do not understand why he did not beam death rays from his eyes to vaporize the Roman soldiers who beat him with whips designed to tear and mutilate flesh or to zap the Jews (and Gentiles) who mocked him along his death march when everything he did was for them. 

            I do not understand how he can love the sinful, hateful, and insane creatures called human beings, but he does.  Love drove him to design a plan of salvation in place before the first sin was committed in the Garden of Eden and before the first murder took place a few years later.  At the right time, love compelled him to humble himself and take on the form of a man. Love convinced him to submit to a crucifixion (despite his unearthly potential to resist it) even when the human part of him was feeling abandoned.  Love sang the victory song of his resurrection (and of his conquering of sin and death).   I do not understand why he loves us, but he does.

            However, the plan begun in ages past has not yet been completed.  We stand confused and lost because we cannot see the culmination of his design.  Fortunately, we do not need to see the end; we just have to trust the Designer.  Evidence of our trust can be found in our following his example:  loving despite the hatred and insanity around us.  On the cross, Jesus cried out with love and forgiveness, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."  (Luke 23:34)  In Nazi occupied areas, the insanity of Hitler was thwarted by the compassion of many who preserved hidden Jews.  The words of hope that radiate from the incident at Sandy Hook are rooted in acts of love and compassion.  Love conquers insanity.  What have you done today to throw love into the face of insanity?


*I realize this tragedy affects more than mothers—fathers, grandparents, siblings—but being who I am, I am writing from a mother's perspective.

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