This morning, I woke up to news station reporting an attack on London Bridge. My heart felt like it was being suffocated. I could sense the knot forming in my throat. I put my back up against the back door and slid down to sit on the floor. One hand held my phone and the other was clasped over my mouth.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to cry.
I wanted to understand.
I needed to know why this city has been attacked three times since I have been on the mission field. I needed someone to tell me why I was healthy and happy and living in an orphanage in Africa, helping lead teenage girls to Jesus and the city of London was feeling the weight of a third blow. Why I was here, eating a peanut butter sandwich on the kitchen floor waiting for my friends to come home from church so we can cook pancakes and the people of London were mourning their lost ones. Why I was alive and the victims were not.
I think “why?” is probably God’s most popular question. I think if He had to rank all the questions He got by volume, this one would slide its way on up to the very top. I also think that He’s just as outraged as you and I. Our God is a God of love and of peace. A God of sovereignty. He isn’t biting His nails and waiting to see what’s going to happen next. He isn’t shocked or surprised when the terrorist kills the sixth person.
While I believe that our God is not a God of injustice and He does not construct tragedy out of malicious intent, I also believe that He wants only to draw us nearer to Himself and even bad things do not happen outside of His control.
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. ” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
I believe that heartbreak can leave us at a crossroads. I think it can create a space of more intimate communion with Jesus as we come to Him holding a bunch of broken pieces and unanswered questions in our hands. I also think that, if we let it, it can drive us away from Him as we look to other people, to social media and to other things to fill that void with what can be cleverly disguised as hope. Isn’t that what we all really want from this? We want our friends to come back to life, we want to create a safer world, we want justice. We want hope.
I know that my hands are small and my empathy can’t change what has already happened, but because I believe my community is hurting with me, I want to share with you how we’re processing this tragedy.
1) Run. Sprint to the Father. Make a v-line for the throne room and ask your questions. Ask all of them. Shake your fist, scream, cry, and punch a wall. Grieve for this fallen & broken world and take Him up on His offer of that shoulder to cry on. You don’t have to stay at that crossroad and you don’t have to carry the weight of confusion. Peace has been disrupted and injustice has taken place. In the midst of the darkness, run as hard as you can to the light. (James 4:8) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
2) Trust. Trust that although our world is full of sin, His purpose is holy. Trust that He promises to restore and to make good of everything. Trust that He sends people like Isaiah to ”
bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Trust that He really is in control even when it doesn’t look or feel as if that’s the case at all.
3) People. Your community is there to function the way the body of Christ should. For us, that means coming around each other in tragic times. These people are here to speak life into dark places and to bring light to the places where it seems there’s no more hope. Let these people in. Seek out the beauty in community when it comes to healing and processing. We were created to need people and we can’t do this alone. Lean in to what Jesus is doing in your people.
It may not be until we’re actually side by side with Jesus that we ever have answered to our “why’s”. And I believe that at that point, we won’t need them anymore because everything will make sense. So until then, we’ll stay on our knees. We’ll stay wandering around this broken world. We’ll stay trying our best to seek Heaven and to forgive those people who do things that we don’t understand.
All my love and prayers to my friends in London and my community around the world that is hurting for this city today.