I have been pondering this statement since the shootings on Friday in Newtown. Tragedies like this create fear. I’m not sure if there was a mom who didn’t hug their child a little tighter before sending their children off to school this week. I know I was certainly more aware of the last words out of my mouth before my son got on the bus. It changes the way we speak to one another. It causes us to love our loved ones with intention.
However, that fear is a nasty beast. It can take over our heart and emotions and cause us to want to take back control; control over our loved ones, control over what gets taken from us, control over death itself. Somehow we believe we can prevent tragedy from ever happening to us.
The problem with control is that it feeds the fear that created it. We become paranoid. With fear clenching our hearts, we continue to try and control our environment. When calamity strikes beyond the control we have fought so hard to keep, the blame can only fall to the One who we know holds more control: God Himself.
Here’s the problem. If we struggle with our concept of God, this can distort whatever idea we had of Him to begin with. It’s not an ideal starting point to try and figure out our faith. If we’re “good Christians” we blame God in secret, saying all the right cliche’s in public like, “God works all things together for good for those who love Him”, but then die a slow death of faith in isolation for fear of being reprimanded for questioning God, or appearing to have no faith in Him.
Probably the most dangerous response to our losing control are legalistic statements like this:
“Dear God, why do you allow so much violence in our schools?” – signed a concerned student
“Dear Concerned Student, because I’m not allowed in schools.” – signed God
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there’s blessing when God is allowed into our lives, our families and our schools, but to make the bold statement that by having The Lord’s Prayer back in schools means that schools would be void of any tragedy is only our empty attempt to find an explanation to explain “Why God would allow?”….
Similar statements have been made along the same lines: (you fill in the blank)
– If only I had done (this), God wouldn’t have allowed (this).
– If I do (this), God will never allow (this) to happen to me.
– GOD!!! I held my end of the bargain by doing (this) and you still allowed (this)!! Why would you do that?!
Eight years ago, I stood making such statements to God over the quick deaths of both my father and my grandma. I reasoned that God had taken them because of my actions. I determined to “do right” only to find that everything I tried to hold onto tightly was taken. This left me with the last statement mentioned, “GOD! I did my part! You took everything!!! Why would you do that?!”
Through brokenness, hardship, and tragedy I have learned something valuable; I’ve learned to trust despite. I don’t get it. I don’t know all the answers of “why” bad things happen, but I do know Who I trust, and I believe my trust is more valuable through uncertainty. In order to trust, I have had to give up control over my life. Today, when I sent my son on the bus to school, I gave up my control and gulped down a big helping of trust.
When you have experienced pain and tragedy, fear is always knocking at your door, wanting to feed you paranoia of what tragedy could happen today. You become afraid of experiencing the pain again. The truth is, it very well could happen, but living in fear only feeds it and the need to control our environments. It’s a battle we can’t win.
Today, I’m leaning in to trust the One I am tempted to doubt. I surrender control and take in a deep breath of “it is well with my soul”. With the same breath, I offer up prayers of safety and for God’s kingdom to reign over the earth’s brokenness.