(Writer Adele Konyndyk writes about this–once again in connexion with Handel’s Messiah–better here, but I’m still going to put in my two cents because . . . that’s what I do.)
If I said the timing of my last post, relative to the massacre of children that happened in Newtown, Connecticut, last Friday was probably not a coincidence, would you think I meant that somehow that horrific event was ordained by God?
Because that’s not what I’m saying. Nor do I think my own enlightenment is so monstrously important that such a tragedy was meant to happen just so I could understand God better. Such events usually have more of the effect of making me feel like I don’t know God at all. But I still don’t think the timing was exactly coincidental.
Shortly before I had my heartbroken-God epiphany, I had three separate interactions with three different men, all of whom said something to the effect of, “I could never worship a God who would . . . ” After I wrote “Tears of Advent,” I thought I was going to write a post about not being able to box God, and not being able, really, to say what He will or won’t do, but just before I was able to post it, the Newtown shooting happened and I had to take stock of my own ideas about what God will and won’t do. Maybe someday I will indeed pontificate about God’s role (or lack thereof) in the evil in the world (or you can read some of that pontificating in the comment I posted at Jeff’s Deep Thoughts a number of weeks ago), but right now the theme is too raw. I’m headed in the direction of a Master’s degree in Theology, and I’m doing that because I think theology is important and because I like it, but even I can admit that when the rubber meets the road, personal theology ends up being a lot more visceral than intellectual, and debating whether or not God had a hand in something terrible that happened seems extra crass when Terrible happened close by, and to people that people you know, actually know.
I do believe that God will bring something good out of this tragic mess, because it seems to me, from experience and hearsay and, you know, the Bible, that that’s what He does. I don’t know what the good will be. Maybe it’ll be better gun laws. Maybe it’s the stepping up of personal goodness within people. Maybe it will be the incredible, supernatural gift of forgiveness toward the coward who killed children before killing himself. (I have a hard time imagining achieving that frame of mind, but that’s because it’s supernatural in the end, I guess.) Maybe it’s something I can’t even imagine right this second. But the thing is, people are still grieving. Someone is still going to go through Christmas without some little boy or girl that they loved, who would have reveled in the tree and presents. Someone is never going to view Christmas the same way again.
I guess, in the face of that, what I’m hanging onto is not some debate about the sovereignty of God, but the fact that this shows just how badly we really need Christmas. By which I mean Christ, of course. Christmas never was truly about stuff, and maybe epiphanies are always meant to be bittersweet. Right now, I’m just really grateful for the reminder that God is also a parent whose child was wrenched from Him, and that that wrenching came about because we are broken, and our world is broken, and yet God loves us still. At Christmas, God entered the mess, the brokenness, the tragedy, and is somehow (sometimes in ways more unseen than seen yet, but sometimes we can see the ways, too) making it right. The birth of Jesus is the birth of hope that, God with us, all will be well.