“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:18 NIV
This has all happened before. Innocent children’s lives snuffed out at the hands of a madman in a small town. No warning; no mercy. Only savage slaughter.
We can piece together the reasons, after the fact. Jealousy, revenge, anger, irrational fear, despair. None of these words ameliorates the crime.
Explanations are not comforting and offer no acceptable excuse.
Every act of violence is a hand raised against God Himself, the Author of Life, who has given His everlasting command against murder. Some acts are more literally a strike at God than others. Surely there are few things more evil than to strike at innocent youth.
Once upon a time, a group of infants and toddlers was summarily executed to appease a king’s paranoia. Unbeknownst to him, the object of his insane envy escaped into Egypt, and his ultimate intent was thwarted. But blood was still shed, horrifically and without any justification. Surely God Himself wept, even as the angels shadowed that family of three hurrying away into the desert.
Evil is abroad in the world, and has been since almost the beginning of time. Over and over it lashes out, again and again atrocities are committed. And yet evil does not ultimately triumph. One would think in all this time that Good would be beaten back, stamped out, forgotten. But against all reason, it remains, and even flourishes.
Although God in His inscrutable wisdom allows humans to sin because of free will, He does not permit anything to thwart His ultimate purposes. Then as now, Christ is a living presence in our world. Better still, today we have the Holy Spirit abroad in our hearts, bringing His comfort beyond words to all those in need.
In the midst of tragedy which we cannot understand, we can and must cling to what we know is true. God is not mocked, men will reap what they have sown (Gal. 6:7), and the gates of that evil will not be able at last to withstand the assault by His Church (Matt.16:18). If you are in a position to offer words of comfort, do so. If you are prompted to speak truth in love, do so. If we who are new creations in Christ cannot offer comfort, who can? If our hope is only for this temporal world, and not eternity, then we are the most pathetic of mortals (I Cor. 15:19).
Yesterday’s post was a reading from 15 years ago, before most of the recent spate of senseless killings. I scheduled it days in advance, and so did not realize that it would be read in the context of the Friday massacre in Newtown, CT.
But now, I can think of no better scripture to close with than the words of Isaiah which I quoted Sunday:
‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…
For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government will be upon His shoulders.
And He will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.’