Saturday, December 15, 2012

Safe

Safe. What does that mean? Reading about the Connecticut elementary school shooting this morning, my heart grieves. How could someone do something that horrible? Murdering innocent and unprotected children.


Thinking about Herod’s order for all boys two and under to be slaughtered after Jesus’ birth. (Matthew 2)

Thinking about Pharaoh’s order for all male infants to be killed around the time that Moses was born. (Exodus 1)

Thinking about having read “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift yesterday for CJ’s literature assignment—a satire in the 1700s about how killing babies in order to eat them could deal with the problem of poverty in Ireland. I had trouble seeing the humor in it. It just felt wrong.

Killing children is wrong.

Is the world safe?

Evil is real.

Last Saturday I had a conversation with one of the women who came to paint fingernails at the birthday party of one of Jordan’s friends. She had never met a foreigner before and said she was afraid of overseas. I asked her what she meant and she talked about all the killings she reads about in the news. I agreed with her that we generally feel safer in China than in America.

We were 30 miles away from the Batman movie theater shooting in Denver in July. It felt so real and up close. So heartbreaking and scary to watch the live broadcasts the morning after.

It would be easy to live in fear.

The world isn’t a safe place. No matter which part of the globe we inhabit.

I was impacted recently by reading The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot. I was especially touched by the letter Elisabeth’s mother wrote to her after she heard the report (that was not yet confirmed) about Jim Elliot and four other men’s murder by the Aucas in Ecuador in 1956.

“How I long to take you in my arms and comfort you. As yet we have no official word as to the outcome. Rumors fly about. Well-intentioned people phone with the latest things from the radio or TV. The next one may completely contradict the one before. Hope rises and falls. But through it all God is giving unbelievable peace, not to ask that the boys be spared, but only that HIS perfect will may be accomplished and that you dear girls will be so wonderfully conscious of HIS strength and grace that you may be surprised at the peace of heart that He can give...

The following quote from Amy Carmichael seems to fit: ‘Jonathan...does not so comfort David that he becomes necessary to him. He strengthened his hand in God. He leaves his friend strong in God, resting in God, safe in God. He detaches dear David from himself and attached him to his Very Present Help. Then Jonathan went to his house, and David abode in the wood—WITH GOD.’”

Being “safe in God” meant preserved life for baby Moses. In a papyrus basket by the Nile River. For young Jesus. As a refugee with his parents in Egypt. For King David. As he was pursued by countless enemies.

But “safe in God” meant death for Jim Elliot and his four friends. At the hands of the men with whom they wanted to share the Good News. God could have but did not protect them from murder. Just as He did not protect His own Son.

God is weaving, through preserved life and allowed death, His Perfect Plan. In ways that we can’t see now and may not understand at all until we see Him face to face. All of our days are numbered. But we don’t know how many we (or our loved ones) have. Let us live our days with courage. With His peace. In His strength. Not in fear. Even though the world isn’t safe.

Attached to our Very Present Help, we can be “strong in God, resting in God, safe in God.”

I love the words that Abigail spoke to David: “Even when you are chased by those who seek your life, you are safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch.” (1 Samuel 25:29, NLT)

We can be safe in God’s treasure pouch. In our unsafe world.

God, please bring comfort and strength through Your abiding presence to all the families affected by this Conn. school shooting. The horror of what they have experienced is unimaginable. May they know You to be their safe place as they process this great pain and try to move forward with their lives. You can redeem even this.

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