Events of Friday challenge my heart as I sit to write this week's Advent devotional. The third week in Advent focuses on joy, yet every time my mind goes back to Friday's horror, tears fall. Looking for joy seems indecent and disrespectful.
The best I could do on Friday was to look for love, find some way to respond in love.
Joy? That's so much harder to find when you're crying out in grief.
In church today, after lighting a candle of remembrance for those killed in Newtown, our pastor preached a sermon that helped me find a little balance, a little light in the darkness. Not a lot, but a little.
And isn't that how healing works? A little at a time as our hearts and heads process tragedy, whether that tragedy is public or private. We get a little better, then get worse, then get better, and repeat in a process of two steps forward, one step back.
We have to trust the process of healing.
The Bible shows us story after story of people's wickedness and God's ability to turn that wickedness to good. The ultimate story to follow that pattern is Jesus' death on the cross. God turned that horror into eternal salvation for all who want it.
I am grateful for that.
If we can trust that God is with us, is with those families who lost loved ones and those families whose loved ones survived, is with all the first responders and investigators and coroners and psychologists, we can move forward--slowly, perhaps glacially, and with occasional steps backward--in hope and love and gratitude.
All plentiful evidence to the contrary, there is so much to be grateful for right now, but mostly I'm grateful for God's light that shines in all dark places. He calls us to be His light in the world, to share it in those dark places whenever we can.
On Christmas Eve, many of us will light candles in church and sing Silent Night. If you're not in church, you might take an opportunity to light a candle privately, in gratitude for God's goodness. As we heal, let's allow that symbolic act to lift us to the joy that comes from knowing that God takes all things...a small and humble baby born lowly, or a horrible tragedy perpetrated by evil...and turns them to His great good.
Joy comes from gratitude, from knowing that we get to be a part of that great good. God invites us to be a part of it.
Light your candle.
Share its light.
You'll find joy.