From Romans 12:14-21,
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
There are a number of lessons in this passage that are applicable today. So soon after what has turned into a national tragedy. Already the pundits are lining up to offer their political rebukes of this tragedy. Most of us who write about politics couldn’t help but be dragged into the fray. But, for this article, I’d like to remove us all from the political aspects of this tragedy and approach the spiritual aspect of our response as Christians.
I’ll start with my feelings. I was shocked. Horrified. If I think about what happened too much I start to cry. What happened in Sandy Hook, Connecticut was really beyond human comprehension. Who could kill so many defenseless children? Nowadays, we can imagine the rage-full motives of a killer who slaughters the bullies who tormented them. Even there we can assign some meaning and understanding; even if we can’t fully grasp it. But what would cause a 20 year old man to shoot and kill 20 elementary school kids? It’s beyond fathoming.
An often overlooked verse in the Bible commands us very simply “Mourn with those who mourn.” I think as Christians we try to ignore or overlook that verse looking more towards fixing the problem and making everyone “happy like Jesus.” Truth is, that’s not the real Jesus.
In Matthew 4:12 the author writes,
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.
The word withdraw tells us an important amount of information. To withdraw is to retreat or to pull back from view. Generally, when someone is sad and prefers to be in private we call this “withdrawing”. It’s not a sign of defeat, but a sign of sorrow and mourning. It’s a natural human response, and Jesus, fully human (as much as He was fully God), withdrew in sorrow.
The wisest human to ever have lived said it again very simply in Ecclesiastes 3:4 (NKJV),
A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
My brothers and sisters, it is time to mourn. Yes, we can offer hope, but sometimes mourning only requires silence and tears. We don’t need to have all the answers or even understand. We can give hope, but giving hope shouldn’t cause us to offer more advice than we do a shoulder to cry on.
This week has been a very sad week.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18 (HCSB)