Violence

A Cry in the Darkness

Winter park at nightSometimes silence is the only appropriate response to tragedy. But sometimes our hearts cry out louder than the silence…piercing through the darkness, pleading for an answer. Where is God in the midst of all the hate and killing, the evil and the madness? Where are WE?

If God is good and loving, how can He allow horrific things to happen? We question how we can trust a God who allows darkness to prevail over our lives. But how can we NOT trust Him? The other alternative is to trust ourselves, to trust in humanity—but look what we’ve done to ourselves. How can we trust ourselves when we are capable of annihilating one another? Such evils have come at the hands of men intent on following their own selfish intentions. Yet following God’s ways, we would know and be empowered to “do to others as we would have done to us” and to “love others more than we love ourselves.”

We question what has become of God’s peace and provision. Where is His barrier of protection over us? But we are the ones who have erased the barrier. We’ve told God we’d much rather rule ourselves, even to the point of destruction. We’ve told him we don’t want Him in our homes, in our lives, in our schools…in our world, then we look and wonder why He’s not there when tragedy strikes.

God has stepped into the darkness of our world, offering the hope of reconciliation. In Him, we have the shelter of hope in the midst of our storms. There is no guarantee our lives on this dark earth will be safe. Men bent on following their own ways are constantly penetrating the barrier God has offered to provide.

And yet, in God, there is hope even in the deepest depths of darkness—that we were created for something far greater than what we’ve settled for. We were made for a world where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”

In times like this, we cry out to God in words much like those of this prayer by Max Lucado: “Lord…Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence…

“Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene…

“Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.”

(Originally posted on the Eternal Encounter blog in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy)

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Candle for ChristmasChristmas music is typically associated with feelings of joy. This year, it’s stirring something different in me. Something more somber, melancholy—the words and melodies clashing with news of endless bloodshed and senseless violence. Where is the hope these songs proclaim?

Instead of nostalgic feelings of happier days, I’m reminded of a scene in the late Robin Williams’ movie Good Morning Vietnam. Sobered by the brutality of war, Williams’ usually upbeat character cues the song What a Wonderful World. As Louis Armstrong sings about trees of green, red roses, rainbows, and friends shaking hands, horrific images from the tragic war scroll by in ironic dissonance with the lyrics, such words of hope gravely failing to mirror the surrounding reality.

My playlist continues as I scroll through the headlines. Can it get any darker than it already is? On this side of the world, Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year. How appropriate that in the darkest of days we’re blessed with candles and lights and words of hope. And how appropriate that come Christmas, the darkest days have passed. From here forward, the sun will shine longer and brighter, increasing each day until summer comes again.

The very first Christmas was a time of political unrest and social upheaval, a king so evil and power hungry he would resort to killing innocent children to protect his throne. In the midst of such evil, hope came alive—a hope great enough to inspire beautiful songs written in times of deep darkness.

It may not seem to be the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, with all that’s going on. It may not feel like the hap-happiest season of all. Yet if a song beautiful as Silent Night could be written in the midst of war, there is hope. God’s light is great enough to overcome the deepest darkness.

Though Earth Give Way

Blog_CurtainOfWaterthough earth give way
and mountains shall crumble
and all that we’ve trusted
one day will fail

the curtain’s been torn
between light and darkness
and in the end, light
will always prevail

Source: Where Are You God?

Photo Credit: File:Curtain of Water.JPG – Wikimedia Commons

Where are You, God?

Blog_SnowyWinterNightwhere are you, God
in the midst of the darkness?
we’re crying to you
in this desolate land

war rages around us
we’re searching for answers
to things
we can never understand

where are you, God
do you see our tears falling?
do you hear our prayers
and feel our pain?

the world is in anguish
our children are dying
the clouds of refreshing
withhold their rain

where are you God?
we’re hurting and hopeless
wounded and broken
and in distress

our own neighbors killing
destroying, devouring
can You bring forth beauty
from our hateful mess?

God, you came down
from light into darkness
born in the shadows
of earth’s darkest night

the forces of evil
releasing their fury
swords bent on destruction
consuming all life

you spoke to the madness
with love and compassion
to ears fallen deaf
in a world filled with strife

brought healing, redemption
though you were rejected
crushed by our hate
while releasing your light

and now you are here
in the midst of our suffering
calling to us
“don’t settle for this”

we’re made for much more
than what we’ve accepted
and this world is not
all that there is

so though earth give way
and mountains shall crumble
and all that we’ve trusted
one day will fail

the curtain’s been torn
between light and darkness
and in the end, light
will always prevail

(originally posted on the Nightlight Blog)

The Mirror

blog_fireasheswar is a mirror
revealing who we are
and what we will become
if we ignore hatred’s spark
and allow it to grow
to a raging flame

we pray
“deliver us from evil”
as if evil
were outside of ourselves
untouched by our minds
distant from our hearts

we pray
“deliver us from evil”
but the honest will pray
“deliver us from ourselves”

 

poetry by j.e. fernandez

Where are You, God?

Blog_CityStormyNightwhere are you, God
in the midst of the darkness?
we’re crying to you
in this desolate land

war rages around us
we’re searching for answers
to things
we can never understand

where are you, God
do you see our tears falling?
do you hear our prayers
and feel our pain?

the world is in anguish
our children are dying
the clouds of refreshing
withhold their rain

where are you God?
we’re hurting and hopeless
wounded and broken
and in distress

our own neighbors killing
destroying, devouring
can You bring forth beauty
from our hateful mess?

God, you came down
from light into darkness
born in the shadows
of earth’s darkest night

the forces of evil
releasing their fury
swords bent on destruction
consuming all life

you spoke to the madness
with love and compassion
to ears fallen deaf
in a world filled with strife

brought healing, redemption
though you were rejected
crushed by our hate
while releasing your light

and now you are here
in the midst of our suffering
calling to us
“don’t settle for this”

we’re made for much more
than what we’ve accepted
and this world is not
all that there is

so though earth give way
and mountains shall crumble
and all that we’ve trusted
one day will fail

the curtain’s been torn
between light and darkness
and in the end, light
will always prevail

 

Source: Where are You, God?

Photo Credit: Thunderstorm – Free images on Pixabay

The Safest Place

Blog_LighthouseInStormWhen my husband and I lived in the inner city, friends and relatives rarely came to visit because they were afraid of getting shot. I would think, “What are you afraid of? We’ve lived here fourteen years and only been shot at five times.” Encountering random gunfire in the city is not a daily occurrence as most would presume, though I can understand that for most people one close-encounter is one too many.

Let me say upfront that the majority of those we met while living in the inner city were average people wanting to live peaceful, productive lives. As a matter of fact, most of them were beyond average people wanting to make a difference in their communities and in the world at large. But yes, I will admit that while living in one of the most dangerous communities on the west side of Chicago, we did have our share of close encounters.

There was the time we were at our neighbor’s house, standing up to leave, when someone drove by and shot through the living room window, level with our heads. One of us should have been hit. Yet “somehow” the bullet lodged in the high corner of the wall, far above our heads. And there was the time we were driving home from a fourth of July picnic and someone shot off a random bullet, which lodged in the roof of our car just above my husband’s head. I can recount other stories with similar outcomes that were by no means merely coincidental.

What I learned through it all is this: there’s no safer place in the world than in the center of God’s will. We were in that neighborhood because God called us there to tell people of His power to free them from addiction and gang violence. So when we encountered that violence ourselves, God placed a shield of protection around us.

I once read of a missionary called to share God’s love with a cannibalistic tribe in a remote jungle of Papua New Guinea. Countless times he was nearly killed by spears, poisonous darts, arrows…but God kept him safe for as long as he needed breath to do what he was called to do.

In this crazy, violent age, the safest place to be is in God. It doesn’t ensure we will never experience physical harm, but that He will preserve us until our calling in life is complete. My prayer has always been: “Lord, preserve my life to fulfill every good work you have for me, until the day when my death will give you the greatest glory and honor.” And knowing He’s always been faithful, I walk in confidence and will not fear evil or death in these evil days.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)

Photo Credit: File:Split Rock Lighthouse – November 10, 2009 (4094837910).jpg …