Every time I see the news my heart sinks. Another demonstration of evil and hate. More senseless death, destruction, tragedy. I carry the information the TV brings me like a weight around my neck. Tears fills my eyes, anger fills my heart. Why, again? What do I do? How do I stay brave in this world? How to I hold onto the beautiful things like hope, joy, love and laughter when others suffer around me so tremendously? I struggle with words. I struggle against the inclination to move to Canada, hide away and try my best to stay under the radar.
I also worry. I worry so much. I worry if my kids go to a public event will they be hurt? Will they accidentally have a brush with violence at the grocery store or movie theater? Will my husband be targeted as a school teacher? We live in a free country but the violence around us makes me feel more paranoid than free. I worry I’m not doing enough, caring enough, loving enough to turn the tide for my kids and their future.
I haven’t figured it out. How to navigate this broken world, to look ahead for my children and see a bright future.
Even though I’m still struggling with it all, this week some words have come to me that have helped me find some peace. Our pastor happened to read Jeremiah 29 this past Sunday in a context that didn’t have to do with tragedy yet the words of this passage came back to my mind when the horrible news of Las Vegas rolled in.
Jeremiah 29: 4-7
4 This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, to all the exiles I’ve taken from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5 “Build houses and make yourselves at home.
“Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country.
6 “Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you’ll thrive in that country and not waste away.
7 “Make yourselves at home there and work for the country’s welfare.
“Pray for Babylon’s well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you.”
God knows we aren’t home. We aren’t safe, we are exiles yet he says don’t hide away, don’t stop growing your family. Grow roots, pray for your city and as you are blessed your city will be blessed. This has been my prayer this week. Let us be a blessing to our community, even if it’s just in tiny ways. Give me the strength to have hope for my children, to plant and plan for the next seasons of life. It’s ok to move forward, to blossom in a community, even when chaos ensues around us. We are the peace, we bring the calm, we are to be a blessing.
The next words of comfort came from my husband. We have been grieving together this week over the news of more senseless tragedy. The words he sent me are from Proverbs.
Proverbs 3: 21-26
My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.
God promises safety, sweet sleep and says he is at your side. When I read this relief covers me. In our media filled world these words almost feel preposterous. How could God even suggest we sleep well when we have a 24 hour new cycle to keep us tied up in knots? Isn’t he worried about all these tragedies? I believe he is. He literally has done everything is his power to save our world, including giving himself up for us. He also has a plan beyond here and now that allows us to rest in His sovereign power and lean into His wisdom. I struggle so much to trust this. To Believe these words to be truth. To know that He will be beside me even if my worst nightmares become my reality while I live on earth. He says he walks with us. He says I don’t need to be afraid. I pray that to be true for my life and even when death comes too close for comfort. I pray that I feel this even when my heart questions, struggles to believe.
I pray some of these words will bring comfort as we strive to have hope for our beautiful young ones who inherit the world we are creating. God is with them. He holds them in ways we can’t. Even when I doubt, it is true and I am thankful.