and every breath is a hallelujah.

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I like to understand things. I want to understand why these things happen, to know the reason, have some kind of explanation, and put it in its Sunday best, smooth out the wrinkles and straighten the starched collar, and fit it inside a box, make sense of it all.

But I suppose there are some things that go well beyond my meager comprehension.

Honestly, it’s so much easier to hear about shootings in other states, in the papers, on facebook, or on the news. It’s distant. It’s very saddening for sure, but it’s not here, it’s not personal. I’m safe here. We’re safe here.

The only thing I can compare it to is like being inside your house, where you’re comfortable and warm, and staring out the window at the lightening storm outside. It’s happening for sure, but we’re inside, we’re safe. We have nothing to worry about. And then, suddenly, all of that is ripped away — and now you’re standing outside, in the storm, now exposed to the wind and the rain, afraid, with nowhere to hide, nowhere to be safe. And at times you cry out to God and all you can hear is your voice echoing in these empty walls?

This is my hometown. I knew some of the students, some of those who were in the rooms next door, the buildings nearby. The familiarity, peace, and security of my small community has been breached.

I just hardly know what to think anymore.

It’s easy enough to stifle the questions threatening to slip from the corners of my eyes and roll down my cheeks, but the pain … the pain is something that demands to be felt. I may not have been directly impacted, but my body is numb and my mind feels everything. It’s like I’m walking in a trance, like I’m just moving my arms and legs here and there, completing every-day tasks that need to be done, but I’m not here. I’m not sure exactly where I am — caught somewhere in-between reality and emotion.

I know I am just rambling, but I hardly know how to put it in words. My thoughts are as unstructured and messy as my writing. I suppose there really are no words for this.

It’s important that we remember that we are all part of the Story. We are in that Story, and everything, big or small, finds its meaning and significance in the grand scheme of things. The basic story line is this: God created the world, man sinned, God redeemed man through Jesus Christ, and there will be a final consummation when God judges, conquers, and restores all things. You see, as humans, we can’t see the forest for the trees. We are living within the moment, and our knowledge is limited by our perspective, but God sees (and is in control of) the bigger picture. He knows what will happen because He is in control of what will happen.

I have heard people say that Christianity is just some crutch we use, an illusion, a fictitious hope that there is a reason for everything — a fairy tale for grown-ups. Why would God, so Omnipotent and perfectly Good, allow all this to happen anyway? Why did He create Evil if He hates it so much? Where is justice or mercy in that? Because – after all – if He could have stopped it, He would, right?

This did not take God by surprise, nor was He wringing His hands or pulling at His collar trying to come up with Plan B. We know that God is not the author of evil (James 1:13).  But if He is indeed in charge of everything, why does He allow the wicked to flourish (Ps. 92:5-7)? This shouldn’t discourage us, it should give us hope (Rom. 8:19-25). We can take comfort — evildoers will not last forever (Prov. 16:4; Ps. 37:1-2 7, 9-10, 12-15, 28; Job 14:2), and there is nothing God does not rule over (Dan. 4:35). The wicked — though they will to do wrong or harm — are merely instruments that God uses to demonstrate the fullness of His glory (Ps. 76:10, Rom. 9:22-23, Is. 10).

“Are you a Christian?” — are words echoing in my mind, in a steady rhythm, like a pendulum, sometimes loud, sometimes soft. I cannot tell you how much it floors me, the bravery these fellow believers had to stand up and say, “Yes”. In the heat of the moment, when adrenaline is pounding in your veins, and you are shaking, staring into the end of a gun’s barrel and the hateful eyes of a calloused heart, would your first response be to stand in the name of Christ?

Although we see this as a tragedy (which it certainly is), really, and truly, what more honorable way to die, than for our Lord and Savior? For the One who poured out His life for us? To live out the words: “to live is Christ; to die is gain”? Everything we suffer here on earth will not even be able to compare to the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). They are now Home, celebrating and being rewarded for their bravery and their devotion to Christ.

So despite my fears and waves of emotion, I know the One who is in control of it all. I look to the heavens and remember, gratefully, even in rain, there is Someone greater than ourselves, Someone beyond the unfathomable.

“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You yourself are the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”

— C.S. Lewis

Be still, my heart. Selah.

12 thoughts on “and every breath is a hallelujah.

  1. Dear Rachel,
    I’m sure many, myself included, can relate to the raw emotions and shock of having our world rocked as you so aptly described.
    Thank you for reminding us of the Truth we can not only cling to … But rest in even as we weep. The pictures really capture what words can not. The Lord has gifted you with insight beyond your years and with wisdom from above.
    James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
    Thank you.

    • Thank you for your compliments, and thank you so much for your friendship.
      It is a time of healing for us all, to be sure. I cannot even fathom what the families are going through. I pray that they find peace and rest in God’s Word during this time of suffering.

    • I am glad. It is so easy to despair in the face of such a tragedy, and to forget Who holds it all, and the One who is in control of everything, even if all we see is chaos and destruction.

  2. Great post Rachel, I can’t imagine how it would be to have that happen in your backyard basically – so close to home. I did want to add some verses to what you said that have comforted me over the years trying to piece things like this together. In your post you mentioned James 1:13REV
    Let, no one, while tempted, be saying–From God, am I tempted,–for, God, cannot be tempted by things evil, and, himself, tempteth no one;

    I’ve come to see a very sovereign God that while he may not tempt anyone, himself, is really the one “behind” it all. Here are a few verses that I used to struggle with, but have come to accept:

    Isaiah 45:6-7
    That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west,
    that there is none beside me.
    I am the Lord, and there is none else.
    I form the light, and create darkness:
    I make peace, and create evil:
    I the Lord do all these things.

    And another here:

    Amos 3:6
    Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?
    shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?

    We learn in Job who is really the one doing the evil, but he is created by God for that very purpose:

    Isaiah 54:16
    Behold, I have created the smith
    that bloweth the coals in the fire,
    and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work;
    and I have created the waster to destroy.

    All of this just to confirm what you seem to be saying in your post, that God really is in control and that we can still trust in Him when bad things happen around us, to us, or in us. He is the the only one that can make good from evil.

    Psalms 139:12
    Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee;
    but the night shineth as the day:
    the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

    Praying for your comfort in these dark times.

    • Thank you so much for the encouraging verses — I certainly need them! I will be definitely coming back to them to meditate on throughout the week. And your prayers are very appreciated.

your comments are a ray of sunshine:)

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