“If only my grief could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas.” – Job 6:2
If our combined grief and suffering for the deaths of 21 innocent children and teachers could be placed on the scales, it would surely outweigh the sand of the seas.
I hate suffering and evil and hurt infused upon others by the darkness of this world. I hate that 19 children and two teachers were all doing the right thing, and wrong showed up. I hate that innocent children, moms and dads, grandparents and teachers, and a whole community, are preparing to bury their loved ones and friends instead of celebrating the end of school and the beginning of summer. I hate that evil took root in the heart and mind of an 18-year-old boy, destroying him as he destroyed others.
Deep down we want justice. Deep down we want answers. Deep down we want someone to do something, anything, so nothing like this horrific act will ever happen again. We want answers, we want results, we want relief, and we want it now! We demand such suffering never be imputed again upon our children and their educators. Someone, fix it!
Unfortunately, grief, suffering, and sorrow in this life will never be eliminated. That does not mean we throw up our hands and do nothing. It means that ultimately, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12}. These forces pay no heed to laws, legislation or policy. Relentlessly they find a way to create havoc and suffering.
The Bible has much to say about suffering. Its first two chapters are about God’s hope and plan for humanity and the creation before suffering. The last chapters are about our existence when all suffering comes to an end. Most everything in between is about the reality of suffering in our broken world. Mostly, the Biblical writers don’t explain why suffering exists; they protest suffering to God; from the suffering of Israel’s slavery in Egypt, to the suffering of Job, to the emptiness of the writer of Ecclesiastes, to Psalms of complaint to the entire book of Lamentations.
“How long? What for? Why? God, have you forgotten? Do you hear? Do you care? Will you do something?”
The Bible is mostly written by people who were frustrated, overwhelmed, and troubled by evil-invoked suffering like the senseless killing of nineteen innocent children and two teachers. The Bible is mostly written by people who explain evil, and in so doing, prove God’s existence and loving presence in the midst of our suffering.
Suffering in this life is inevitable, inescapable. There are two primary ways we suffer. There is suffering from and there is suffering with. We can suffer from something; we can suffer with someone. We suffer from painful events and experiences and losses, large and small. We suffer from divorce, an absent parent, and the sinful acts of another like an armed, disturbed 18-year-old entering a school with evil intentions. When you are experiencing something you very much don’t want, you are suffering from. Today we all are suffering from.
And then there is suffering that we choose. We stop what we are doing and we suffer with others. We stop and feel the pain of our fellow Texans. We stop and feel the pain of parents who have been reminded again we live in a dangerous world filled with broken, dangerous people.
We sit beside a hospital bed. We listen to a mom who has lost a child. We attend a funeral. We take a meal to someone who has lost a spouse. We listen to a sold out, but fearful, teacher. We sit with our children in their anxiety filled moment. We can’t fix it. We can’t make it go away. We suffer with them.
Jesus is the master of suffering with. Nobody has ever suffered with like Jesus. He suffered with lepers, He suffered with children and parents, He wept at funerals, He listened to the perpetrators of hideous acts and had compassion for those who doubted who He said He was.
Jesus himself suffered rejection, mockery, and humiliation, on behalf of all sinners, for the very ones who invoke suffering upon others. The place of Jesus’ ultimate suffering was a cross, suffering from sin and guilt and death and suffering with you and me.
We wonder in our pain and suffering, “Where is God?” He is there on the cross suffering from us and suffering with us. God is in the midst of the carnage sighing and weeping, holding and comforting, binding and anointing wounds of the flesh and heart and most of all, redeeming suffering.
Heaven turned the cross, a tool of torture and death, into the ultimate expression of victorious love. And one day, some day, heaven will turn every agony, your agony, the agony of every student, every teacher and every Uvalde resident, into a story of suffering redeemed. Until then, even as we do what we can to protect and defend the vulnerable, we grieve from and we grieve with.
I am praying with you. Please pray with those who suffer and grieve.
Married to Dallas 43 years, three sons: Justin, Jacob, James, three daughters-in-law: Lara, Summer, and Corinne, two granddaughters: Lennyx and Dallas, one grandson: Ryder and 5 grand-dogs. He is a son, brother, sports enthusiast, cross-fitter, lover of life, people, especially youth and children, and most of all, a sinner saved by grace.