On Sunday, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas held its first church service since a gunman entered the sanctuary and opened fire on the congregation. Its first service since 25 people, including the pastor’s daughter, were ruthlessly murdered within the walls of a place of worship. Where gunfire rained down on innocent people seeking the comfort and wisdom of the Almighty.
Last week, I received some devastating news from a friend. I heard her voice break on the other end of the phone as she said, “Are you driving? You might need to pull over.” I did. And then I hung up, pulled back onto the highway, and sobbed.
I sobbed for a dear friend whose loss I can hardly comprehend. I sobbed for a broken world where people of faith are gunned down as they pray. I sobbed because in these moments, there are no words. There are only tears, and groans straight from our grieved souls.
In these desperate circumstances, my heart aches. It aches for the child who will grow up without her father. And the parents who must find a way to go on without their child. I can’t fathom the brokenness. And I can’t wrap my mind around why.
I don’t know why God allows these devastating things to happen. I don’t know why horrible, unimaginable injustices happen to us in this life, why evil so often seems to have the last word. The suffering of this world is vast and horrific. It is unjust and depraved and utterly unholy. And sometimes there is no explanation that suffices. I just don’t know why.
But I do know Jesus. I know that He sees our tears and that He hears our groans. I know that in our moments of suffering, His heart breaks with ours, and He weeps alongside us. We are His beloved, and He loves us with a love that is stronger than anything we could ever fathom. How much more then must His heart break when we His beloved are grieved?
He is Near
I know that He is near to the brokenhearted, and that He saves the crushed in spirit. That He sees those heavy laden with the things of this world and He offers them respite, and a yoke that is light. I know that He doesn’t leave us alone in our pain. He sits beside us, bearing our burdens and sustaining us in any and every circumstance.
None of us gets off this earth unscathed. In this life we will face pain, devastating loss, sickness, brokenness, heartache, death. And on this wild, wondrous, yet undeniably broken earth, there are questions we will never have the answers to. Situations where our only response is sobs—groans cried out to heaven in confusion and agony.
Dearest sufferer, please hear this: In even this, He is near. In the unanswerable. In the desperately unclear. In the infuriating bewilderment of this life, our God is here.
It is in these moments He draws us closer. He whispers comfort. And He lets us in on this sacred truth: that only in fully relinquishing our lives to Him can we find peace in this brokenness. He is our comfort, our refuge and our only hope. And in the end, He will make it all new.
We may never know the why, but we can know Him. And in knowing Him we can rest in the promise that although we face trouble in this world, He has overcome it all.