My freshman year at Taylor, Jill Briscoe was the speaker for spiritual emphasis week. She's a graceful, silver-haired Brit who says British things like One Corinthians and ah-gape with the emphasis on the first syllable. I only remember two things she said that week, but one of them has sunk so deeply into my life that it's the first thing that comes out when tragedy and pain hit. Like they did today.
"For this we need Jesus.
But for this we have Jesus."
The truth didn't register when Jill first spoke it. But then she kept repeating it. To be honest, I thought it was a dumb thing to repeat. Isn't it obvious? Isn't it the most obvious thing in Christianity? I didn't feel the weight of it like she did. Looking back now, I think I know why.
To that point in my life, God had graciously shielded me from pain. Not all pain. I definitely lived through some teenage relational angst. And losing my youth pastor when I was seventeen felt like being punched in the stomach. For a whole year. But I made it all the way to college without the kind of bewildering pain that I now know is a part of some little lives before they even have language to describe it.
The kind of pain that comes from being beaten by the daddy who should protect you. The kind of pain a mother experiences watching her child go hungry. The kind of pain that comes from being betrayed or abandoned by a spouse. The kind of pain that happens when your parents sell you into the sex trade. The kind of pain that comes from being falsely accused of a heinous crime. The kind of pain that comes from a gunman opening fire on a kindergarten class. The kind of pain that would cause a 20-year-old from a broken home to become that gunman.
This is the world we live in. My awakening to pain came late. I pray my children can say the same. I fear they won't be able to.
God Sent His Son
Josh and I agree that a tragedy like today's shooting is so much harder to stomach now that we're parents. We shared the instinct to grab our kids and hug them and never let them go. It's times like this that God's identification as Father becomes so much more meaningful.
The horrifying pain that's woven through our world comes from sin. Not just individual I-broke-a-rule sins, but sin in general. Fallenness. The bent we all have to think and act selfishly, to rule our own lives, to protect ourselves at the expense of others. Every single hurt on earth can be traced back to that root.
And it's for that reason that God the Father gave up his right to hold onto his own Son. Into this world of pain and brokenness and fallenness and sin, He sent Jesus. To save us in every way. Every way.
fragile finger sent to heal us
tender brow prepared for thorn
tiny heart whose blood will save us
unto us is born
unto us is born
When pain sweeps over us and is too much for us to bear, we have Jesus. Perhaps we even have Him more fully then than we do on the days when we feel we can handle life by ourselves. When we can't stand, we fall on his grace.
We have Jesus, and he is working powerfully in the world to heal, restore and remake what sin has broken. He heals hearts. He puts lives back together. He even subversively uses sin against itself, taking what was meant for our harm and working it for our good. It's almost too good to be true. But it is true.
He has come. And he is coming. He comes every day, every moment. He is in Newtown, Connecticut, today. And he is with you.
Come, Lord Jesus.