A cry for help

Published 8:22 am Monday, October 9, 2017

The talk of the town this week is a range of feeling and emotions in relation to the travesty that occurred in Las Vegas late Sunday night into early Monday morning. While our community is far removed from this ground zero, it nonetheless is affecting us here in our community.
With all that has happened in the last several months — three major hurricanes, a shooting at a church here in Tennessee, and now the travesty in Las Vegas, Nevada — many of us find ourselves unable to reconcile these occurrences with a legitimate metaphysical or spiritual response.
When I first learned of the shooting in Las Vegas on Monday morning, I was numb. As a pastor, the questions that raced through my fleeting thoughts were: Why? Where is God in the midst of this? Why does God allow these senseless events to occur? Where is divine intervention? When is God going to say enough is enough?
With these thoughts I have wept. My soul has wept. This week I have felt as though I am walking dead — so stunned, angry, bewildered, sorrowful, and helpless.
In the wake of the events social media has been lit up like a firestorm. People are calling for more gun regulations. People are questioning the response time of our first responders. But in the end these rants do not bring back the 59 who have died, nor does it heal the wounds of the over 500 people who were physically injured, not counting the endless scars of the psychological trauma that has been brought about as a result of this rampage.
As a pastor who tries his best to guide and lead people in their life’s journey, I have found myself without words. And, since I am a preacher of sort, to be lacking words, is a challenge. Words do not have meaning; words have usage, and I have been unable to use words in an effective way to describe my own anguish, let alone the anguish of those around me. Of course I could offer pithy cliches, but they tremendously fall short of imparting spiritual truth to the depravity that seems to be cataclysmically affecting not only our emotions but our spiritual states of being.
How do we make sense of these events? How do we reconcile a God whom is in love with a world that is experiencing some of the greatest feats of hate?
There are two truths that have come on the horizon of my thinking this week. These truths do not explain what is unexplainable, but they have brought comfort to my soul and spirit that has been wrenched and aching in pain.
First — God is always ahead of the headlines. In other words, God is never surprised. Whatever comes our way, whatever shocks us in this life, is neither shocking or surprising to our creator.
This should bring us comfort because when we are looking for some sort of understanding, we have access to the God of the universe whom all truth originates from. We can find our rest and solace within Him because with Him we find our purpose and our sense of belonging. Whatever we face, we can know that He is aware of our situation no matter how peaceful or catastrophic it might be.
This is why belief and faith in God is essential for life. We can have a good life without God, but we cannot experience the best life without Him! Christianity is not about following rules or commandments for the mere sake of following them. Christianity is about pursing a person, namely Christ, and as a result of following His commands and His teaching we can be assured of living the best life possible. In this world we will face problems, we will face heartaches, but our faith and trust in the Divine tends to put the unexplainable events into perspective.
Second — The God who lives in us can hush the problems and situations around us. The more we surrender ourselves and our desires to God — the more we allow Him to direct and orchestrate our lives — the greater chance we have at rising above the storms that come our way. For many of us our lives are strings of storms that are occurring either separately or all at once. What our souls need is for the storms to be “hushed.” By trusting in God, and believing that He is the solution to our problems, many of the storms that are ravaging our lives can be put in proper perspective and thus calmed and hushed to the point that they lose their lasting impact in our lives.
I pray daily that God will protect us, and that we will be sensitive to His leading. I am a believer in Christ because He has hushed so many storms in my life. I am a follower of Christ because I trust that where He is leading is where I need to be. Though I cannot always come to a full understanding of all that occurs in this life, I have all the understanding I need to help me cope and respond compassionately to the needs of people one life at a time. May we commit to praying for the storms that our world is constantly facing, and may we commit to seek understanding by trusting and leaning into a God of purpose who has created us so that we can experience the best life possible.
Todd Hallman is pastor of First Baptist Church in Elizabethton.

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