God Is Still There

As I drove home from spending the day with good friends yesterday, my phone began buzzing, indicating that there was a message for me. Someone wanted to get in touch with me.

I checked the message to find that tragedy had struck my community in the loss of a young man. A message had gone out from the principal of the school alerting parents of the situation and letting them know that the school would do whatever they could in the midst of this tragedy to accommodate and care for students.

I looked in the rearview mirror at my three kids. These situations always feel close to home when I look into their eyes. My wife and I carried on our conversation, injecting questions and thoughts as we went. It was hard to wrap my head around this kind of news. When tragic news strikes, I’ve always felt like there are more questions than answers. Who? What? Where? Why?

Why?

Three simple letters that seem to be as invasive as the surgeon’s scalpel. They cut deep but unlike the scalpel, they don’t always get to the heart of the issue. There is pain. There is sorrow. There is anger. The emotions run rampant and wild as we wrestle with a new reality as it begins to set in.

Late last night, I got a text from someone struggling with the news. Words of comfort seem trite to me in times like this. Even as a man of deep faith who has experienced his own losses, the freshness and newness of loss demands something so much more than words can offer.

This morning, I was reminded of the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” The context is important here. Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, has died. His sisters insist that if Jesus had been there, he would not have died. Jesus comforts Mary and Martha with words. He tells them that their brother will rise again and reminds them that he (Jesus) is the resurrection and the life, that whoever believes in him, even though they die, will live. Then Jesus asks where his friend has been laid. When he reaches the tomb, he is greatly moved by the mourners and by the heartfelt pain of these sisters, and Jesus weeps himself.

Jesus’ response in the midst of this tragedy speaks deeply to me. He knew that he was going to heal Lazarus and raise him from the dead. He knew that death would be averted for a little while. Yet he still wept.

Sure, Jesus pointed them towards truth in the beginning, but then he simply wept with his friends. Jesus didn’t get on his soapbox and begin to preach. He said what he needed to say and then he got onto the task at hand: mourning and weeping.

To be honest, I don’t really think that we do that well. I’ve experienced it on both ends of the situation, as the one who is seeking to comfort another and as the one who is seeking to be comforted.

On the day that my father died, I had two friends with me. As I loved on my father and spoke gentle words to him, one of my friends began to weep. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t offer any words. He simply wept.

Sometimes the best thing for us to do is to simply come alongside those who are suffering and experiencing loss and not provide answers, but weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. There will be a time for asking questions and a time for seeking answers.  

The great Scottish author George MacDonald wrote, “The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.” While we weep, we are not alone. In the pain, in the tragedy, in the heartbreak, God is still there. His voice might not always seem decipherable in the loudness of death, but his presence can be felt as he weeps with us. We are not alone.

 Yes, there will be a time for questions and answers, but in the freshness of loss, the best thing that we can do is to weep alongside those who are weeping. There may be a time when the answers that we’ve arrived at are appropriate to share, but that time is not now. May we practice the presence of Jesus alongside those who are grieving and mourning.

Sex Matters – A Book Review

sex mattersEverywhere we look, we are bombarded by sex. It seems that our culture may be obsessed by sex considering the way that it comes at us from every angle. Television shows. Movies. Music. Media. There is no escaping the issue, for us or our children. The things that might once have been forbidden to speak of have become common place.

Children are maturing faster, physically and emotionally. The landscape of sexuality is not for the faint of heart and addressing the subject with your children will happen one way or another. Either you can be up front and frank with them or they’ll find the answers on their own through the things they watch and listen to or from the people around them.

Jonathan McKee takes on the subject of sex with his hard hitting and brief book “Sex Matters.” It’s just long enough that a kid can sit down and read through it in an evening or two. But don’t let the length fool you, it’s packed with challenging and helpful information. McKee shares helpful insights from reputable resources to emphasize his point that many (or most) young people are engaging in sexual activities.

McKee’s companion book for parents is called “More Than Just the Talk” (check out my review here). “Sex Matters” is a synopsis of the material that he covers in that book but specifically geared towards youth. Within the book, McKee isn’t afraid to tackle head on some of the difficult questions that Christian teens may be asking. He addresses the questions “Why wait” and “How far is too far” and other questions as well.

McKee doesn’t sidestep issues here, he uses language that makes sense for young people, even to the point of discomfort. He doesn’t try to dance around issues with cute language, instead choosing to call things what they are and being fairly explicit and clear in addressing the issue of sex. In fact, he shares with humor about some of the uncomfortable language that was used when he was a youth and just how awkward some of that language was.

McKee isn’t afraid to address subjects like pornography, masturbation, and even same sex attraction. He shares his own experiences in a very personal and humorous way. He admits to his own shortcomings while calling youth to do things differently. He is honest and frank, funny and challenging. An honest reader will come away having felt challenged to, at the very least, ask the tough questions that McKee poses within the book.

This book is meant to be read by youth. There may be some parents who don’t want to be quite as frank as McKee in how he addresses the subject of sex, but softening the message and the importance of the language will not make more safe a subject that can be dangerous if not addressed properly. This is an important read, for both youth and their parents. It’s a quick read and packs a punch, especially for the amount of investment necessary.

Pick up a copy and share it with the young people that mean the most to you.

(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Bethany House. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)

I Doubt It

Anyone who knows me and has spent any significant time with me would not hesitate to label me a “cynic.” While I’m not sure that I would say that I wear the label proudly, I certainly don’t avoid or evade it either. I am not easily convinced but I would define myself as loyal, once you gain my trust and respect, I will go to the mat for you.

In preparation for a message that I gave this past weekend at my church, I read some statistics from David Kinnaman’s book, “You Lost Me.” As president of the Barna Group, a leading research organization, Kinnaman has focused much on what keeps people from engaging in church. He has written a book with Gabe Lyons about what the younger generations really think about Christianity. In “You Lost Me,” Kinnaman talks about the exodus out of the church of young people in the 18-29 age group who have grown tired of many things that the church does (and doesn’t) offer.

One striking statistic for me was that nearly 40% of young people who were polled for the Barna study admitted a period of significant doubting of their faith during their short life. Kinnaman says that a large number of those that doubted did not feel that their faith community was open to this kind of doubting and even made some feel uncomfortable that they would even entertain thoughts of doubt. To that, I say, “What a shame!”

Whenever I meet someone with an overconfidence and self-assuredness in their beliefs, I am suspicious. I am mostly suspicious as to whether or not his person has experienced any real difficulties in their lives. I wonder if they have really had their faith challenged, questioned, and even tested. While faith challenges can lead to a strengthening of one’s faith, they more often than not will result in a crisis of faith, a questioning and doubting of one’s long held beliefs and philosophies.

I certainly don’t think that doubt is disrespectful to God. After all, if he is sovereign as many Christ followers claim that he is, than this kind of doubt should come as no surprise to him at all. The Bible is full of those who have expressed their doubts, who have questioned even the sovereign hand of God in the midst of their struggles and crises. The psalmist, David, was renowned for expressing his doubt and disbelief, but he always came back to the place where he remembered what God had promised, where he was able to see God’s hand at work on a larger scale than the immediate and current.

It’s no wonder to me that so many young people would be turned off to the idea or notion of church when they suddenly find themselves in a season of “question everything” and the church will have nothing at all to do with it.

My hope and prayer is that the church would be open to skeptics. Jesus met many skeptics, but he never left them where they were, he always brought them along, invited the along on the journey. I hope that the church can do the same thing and invite others into the journey and dialogue, allowing for healthy doubt and wrestling. There are so many people that I know who would have benefited from such an environment and I hope and pray that I can be part of something that can create that kind of culture and atmosphere.

 

Why, Part 2

It’s funny how life can imitate art commentating on life.

Yesterday, with no hint of what the day would hold, I wrote a post called, “Why?” I never realized that by day’s end, I would find myself uttering that question and wondering about the timing of things in life.

My wife and I had been eagerly waiting to get the nickel tour of our former church from my father-in-law. He had done a good deal of work on their new building and had overseen a large portion of it as well, so I (as an engineer) was anxious to see and hear all about the building. We waited until after we had run some errands in the morning and after we had eaten lunch before we headed down for our tour.

While innocently driving in our minivan, three kids in the back, we were all shaken up a bit when a piece of flying debris shot from a State Department of Transportation lawnmower hit the back window next to my shattering it. We were literally hundreds of feet from our destination, the church parking lot. So, we pulled into another parking lot before getting to the church to assess the damage. Thank God for class that doesn’t shatter upon impact, otherwise, my son would have been injured badly.

After calling 911 and being told to call the DOT claims line, I walked down the street to find the man who had been driving the lawnmower to alert him of what had happened. He called his supervisor and the waiting game began.

All in all, while the shattered glass wasn’t pleasant, there were no injuries. The DOT should cover the cost of the window. I was able to spend more time with my brother who I don’t get to see very often. We were close enough to my in-laws that I was able to get the kids and my wife taken care of so that they didn’t have to wait with me. Not an ideal situation, but it could have been so much worse.

I half snickered and half cursed when I thought of my blog post from yesterday. I thought about the timing, even reminiscing about the beginning of the film “Magnolia” where all of these coincidences were described. I thought about how we had been delayed going down for our nickel tour of the church. I thought about how we happened to be passing that lawnmower on the other side of the road at just the right time when there was no traffic heading in the opposite direction to be hit with the debris. A few seconds earlier or later, we would have escaped without harm.

As I thought about the “why” of the situation, I had to ask myself, “What?” What was I supposed to be seeing in the midst of this? What was I supposed to be doing?

I’ll be honest, the town where it happened can kind of be uppity, if you know what I mean. Some of the people who live there are rich and have an incredible sense of entitlement. I thought about my own need to distinguish myself from someone like that. I was going to be as calm as possible with these guys. In turn, all of the DOT workers who I came in contact with were incredibly cordial and helpful to me. Again, not an ideal situation or one that I would have chosen to happen, but it could have been very different.

I also snickered as family and friends were alerted to this and began commenting about the “adventure” that seems to follow our family wherever we go. I think we can do without that sense of “adventure” for a little while. I’ll take boring for a season because my heart just can’t seem to take too much more “adventure.”

Like I said, there is a lot to be thankful for in the midst of the accident. Heck, it could have happened on the New Jersey Turnpike while we were 3 hours from home and 3 hours from our destination in Connecticut.

But it didn’t!

Yes, it would be easy to ask, “Why?” But would it be beneficial? I saw growth in myself, reacting in a different way than I might have years and even months ago.

I’m not sure why it seems that I’ve always got major lessons to learn. I guess I can chalk that up as another question to ask God when I see him. In the meantime, I’ll see what I can learn through these challenges. I’ll see if I can grow. I’ll see if I might react differently than I would have before. And that, quite possibly, could be the whole reason for all of this “adventure” in the first place.

Why?

Visiting with family in Connecticut, my wife’s sister came over to her parents, where we were staying, with her two boys, their ages corresponding with my boys but off a year so that our two pairs of boys make a successive four year sweep. They all get along well and my in-laws yard is full of adventure and excitement. My father-in-law, a general contractor, has sheds and gardens and tractors, things that mostly excite young boys, especially during summer when the world seems completely “open for business” for boys their age.

As I was lying on the bed, enjoying some time with no responsibility to catch up on the reading I haven’t done in forever, I began to hear a scream, nothing too unusual given the excitement that emerges when these four play together. My parental instinct was to first, determine whether it was a cry of pain and hurt and second, to determine whether that cry was emanating from one of my own children.

Once I realized it wasn’t my child (I breathed a short sigh of relief) and followed the sound to see what had happened. Turns out that my nephew had come across a bee that was none too happy with him. Whether he had stepped on its nest or had just thrown the insect off course from its usual business, it decided to repay him with a sting……and my nephew made it known what had happened.

As I walked into the den where the wounded child was being cared for by his mother, I was struck by the poor kid’s words. He kept saying, “Why?” over and over again. “Why did it sting me? I didn’t do anything to bother it.” My heart went out to my nephew and I began to think long and hard about those words and how often I had uttered them, or at least thought them, to myself.

In fact, I think I’ve done my best to avoid those words over the last few years. I’ve been faced with all kinds of things and my natural instinct is to curl up and cry, like my nephew, decrying against the injustice that’s taken place, proclaiming my own innocence in the midst of circumstances that seem to indicate my own guilt. Why? Why did this happen?

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life trying to allow for my theology to become more reformed (and transformed) from the distorted theology of my childhood. Maybe I had read too many Old Testament stories that had shaped my theology without enough grace. Maybe I had heard one too many sermons that had pointed me towards blaming someone for difficulties and tragedies that would occur. Regardless of its genesis, I had formed some theology in my mind which equated tragedies, trials, and difficulties with something that I had done. After all, bad things don’t just happen to good people, do they?

Ahhh, but yes they do. And if we allow ourselves to go there, we ask ourselves, “Why?” We want to know, like my nephew did, what had been done to deserve it. And the reason that I’ve done my best to avoid that question over the years is because we will always find a reason why we DON’T deserve it. We will always find ourselves innocent of anything worthy of such punishment. We will always wonder why us and not somebody else.

I so badly wanted to grab my nephew and tell him to get used to struggling with the injustice of it. The cynic in me would probably tell him to thank me at a later date, regardless of how I might have warped his theology and viewpoint. But I let him continue to cry and ask his mom why it had happened. He’ll come to it on his own one day, my cynicism need not encroach on his own formation.

But it was a reminder to me that, “Why?” isn’t always a good question to ask. More often than not, I’ve tried to shift the question from “Why” to “What.” What will be different from this? What can I learn? What can I make out of this injustice or trial or tragedy? More to the point, what can God make out of it?

When you do a funeral for a six month old who should have lived long past his parents, trite, comfortable, rehearsed answers seldom work the way that one might hope. When you are faced with a diagnosis that seems bleak and impossible, those same answers are likely to evoke bitterness and rage. When you survey the landscape of your life to find multiple tragedies coming on the heels of each other, trite answers will not suffice. In fact, answers, even well thought out ones, rarely assuage.

Why?

I don’t know……

Those three words have been among the most important ones that I have had to learn. They aren’t words that are easily acceptable or desirable, but they’re the only ones that can really bring any closure to the search.

Life brings with it bee stings and pains that cut deeper, physically and emotionally. What questions are you asking when you’re faced with those pains? I hope to understand more one day, but until then, my search can come up short. Faith upholds and strengthens, but it doesn’t always give adequate answers. God knows, and I know that, but sometimes, I just want to know too. I’m hoping that there will be a day when I will, but until then, I’ll just keep pressing on.

50 Things You Need to Know About Heaven – A Book Review

50 Things You Need to Know About HeavenAmong the questions that come up for those who consider themselves to be followers of Christ, it seems that questions about Heaven seem to top the list. I have always considered those questions in my own life, ever since I was a young boy. With the growing popularity of books like “90 Minutes in Heaven” and “Heaven Is For Real,” more questions have been raised among the Christian community as to the details about Heaven. Into this environment, Dr. John Hart offers his book titled, “50 Things You Need to Know About Heaven.”

First of all, Hart is writing this book for people who consider themselves followers of Christ. This is not a book to give people who are considering whether or not Jesus or heaven is real. Hart does not try to convince people of this but considers that they are already there if they have picked up this book to read it. That being said, Hart relies heavily on the Bible to support the answers to the 50 questions that he offers as the headings of the 50 chapters within this book.

Hart does a good job sticking with what has explicitly been written in Scripture and offers little speculation. While there may be some speculation there, Hart does his best to base even those speculations upon what’s been written within the Bible rather than offering his own opinions.

Among the questions that Hart addresses are where is Heaven? Who will go to Heaven? Will there be physical bodies in Heaven? Will we know each other in Heaven? Is Jesus in Heaven right now? These questions along with many others are the ones that Hart chooses to address, and he does a good job of dealing with them.

Hart dispels many of the traditional views of Heaven that have been wrongly embraced by the church such as the idea that we will dwell on clouds, float around in robes of white, and strum on harps all day long. Hart even dispels the notion that Heaven is actually otherworldly, enforcing beliefs that have also been espoused by the likes of N.T. Wright that Heaven will actually come down to earth in the form of the New Jerusalem.

One thing that I appreciate about Hart’s book is that he does not try to resolve the tensions of Scripture where Scripture does not specifically speak. While there are many things written in the Bible about Heaven, there are also many things left unsaid and Hart does not try to fill in the blank with anything other than what has been offered within the pages of Scripture.

Another resource that Hart offers is a section called “For Further Study” at the end of each chapter. Hart has listed out various Scripture passages that the reader can go to for further research and study. Instead of simply giving and answer and imploring the reader to simply assent to what he has written, Hart encourages the reader to find out for himself/herself based upon the passages that Hart has found helpful.

If you are looking for a good and simple resource that can help in pointing you in the direction of some answers about Heaven based upon what’s written in the Bible, I would highly recommend Hart’s book. It’s not exhaustive and doesn’t delve into heady theological language, but it’s a worthwhile resource for those who want to gently wade into a topic that has been both controversial and intriguing, especially in recent years.

(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Bethany House Publishers. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)

Why Have You Brought Me Here?

Years ago, I recorded a CD.  I did it in a converted chicken coop with some friends who had their own equipment.  Back then, I was a somewhat avid writer of music.  When I would let my melancholy self out to play, I would generally wax philosophical and find some somber tune to match the melancholic words that would seem to roll effortlessly from my brain.

It’s not  often that I find myself so vain as to quote any of the music that I wrote, but among all of the songs that I did pen, there were a few there that I was proud of, not the least of which was a song called “Why Have You Brought Me Here?”

In the years that have passed since I wrote the song, it seems that its poignancy has grown.  I can return to the lyrics and find new meaning there, seeing how the song was not only relevant for my life at the time but almost prophetic for the life that was to come, completely unbeknownst to me.

Whenever I find myself in a difficult situation, I will ask myself what its purpose is and what I am supposed to learn from it.  It’s cause for introspection and a helpful reminder to me that my pain is rarely or never wasted.  There is always purpose behind it, although that purpose may not be evident then or even in the not too distant future, possibly not ever.

As I have faced some difficult situations over the last few years and even looked at the purpose of some current struggles, I have found myself asking that question over and over again.  Why am I here?  How did I get here?  What is the purpose of the struggles in which I find myself?

Answers don’t always come, but sometimes answers aren’t the most important thing.  Sometimes it’s the wrestling, the questioning, the struggling or coming to grips with the situation.  Even if there are no valid conclusions, if it’s caused me to reflect and do some deeper self-criticism, I don’t think that I can say it’s a bad thing.

I don’t know that I can say that I am grateful when I experience difficulties.  The Bible says to consider it joy when trials and difficulties come, I’m trying to get there, but it’s not an easy task.  I work towards it in hopes that each subsequent struggle will get me a little closer than I was before.

In the meantime, I continue to ask the question and while it may seem vain and self-promoting, I occasionally listen to the song.  It’s helped me to realize that there is a bigger picture to see, a picture that I am a part of that encompasses much more than the “now” experience.  When we find ourselves in difficulties, we can get stuck in the weeds, failing to see the forest for the trees and missing the greater purpose in the midst of it.

Nope, I’m not there completely.  It’s a journey, and it’s not for the weak of heart.  I press forward and know that there is purpose in it.  God doesn’t waste my pain and my growth is a process that will continue until the day that I breathe my last.  Why has he brought me here?  I might never know, but I’ll keep trying to find out, even in the midst of those dark and frustrating situations.

Facing Tragedy

candleMy community has been hit hard by the tragic death of a young wife and mother who was killed by a drunk driver while out for a morning run.  While I did not know the young woman, it’s hard not to feel the pain in my heart knowing the hole that is left by her loss.  She had three young children and was seemingly in the prime of her life.

It almost seems inevitable that when tragedy strikes, everyone becomes interested in God, in some form.  Usually, at least in my experience, the interest is more in disproving him or at least chastising him for allowing such a tragedy to happen.  If God is loving and good, how does he allow for such a tragedy to take place?  Why didn’t he step in and intervene?  Couldn’t he have protected her?

Trust me, I’ve been there before.  While I’ve not had something this dramatic happen in my life, I’ve experienced loss and my family has experienced its share of loss.  I’ve been at that place where I’ve looked to the sky and asked, “why?”  I’ve felt angry and frustrated, wondering how a loving God could allow such tragedy to strike so deep.  When something tragic happens we can come up with lots of reasons why it’s even more tragic.

It was just over a year ago that one of my best friends lost his 6 month old son to a rare form of pediatric cancer.  It was devastating and the wound cut so deep that on the first anniversary of his death, it still seemed so fresh.  Those who have experienced loss know that anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions can cause an overwhelming flood of emotion to sweep over them.  The old adage is that it never gets any easier.  You just learn to cope better.

I spoke at the funeral of my friend’s baby.  It was among the most humbling and difficult things that I have ever experienced in my life.  Answers seemed to fall short, but I leaned on God for comfort.

When we experience loss, what do we lean on?  Each other?  Our jobs?  Our communities?  Our God?  We can turn to so many different places to find hope, but most of them fall short of providing us hope that is lasting, hope that doesn’t fail us.  While I wonder why tragedies happen, I also wonder how people who don’t believe in God survive such tragedies.  I genuinely don’t know.

Some might say that it’s inner strength and self-assurance, but there has to be more to it than just that, doesn’t there?  Why do some people respond so differently to tragedy?  How is it that two people can experience similar tragedies with vastly different results?  One rises above the fray and chaos of loss while the other gets stuck down in the midst of it.

When we experience tragedy, or are a witness to it, it has a way of being the great equalizer for us.  It lends us perspective.  We hug our loved ones a little tighter, kiss them a little bit longer, stare at them for a few seconds more.  Life is a vapor and when it’s swirling around us, we have a tendency to forget that.

The older I get, the more tragedy seems to strike around me.  Maybe I wasn’t quite as aware of it when I was younger, maybe I thought that I was immune to it because it seemed such a long way off in the distance.  Regardless, I am learning more and more each day to capture moments when I meet them rather than putting them off for a more convenient time.  Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, especially as it relates to your friends and your family?

God knows all of the intricacies of his creation, I don’t.  I will never understand why tragedy hits some people and avoids others.  I won’t understand how bad things happen to good people, at least not on this side of eternity.  I still rest in Christ alone.  I still lean on the solid rock for my footing and foundation.  I still believe and trust that his plan is good and his ways are sovereign.  Call me what you will, this is where I find my hope.

Why God, Why?

oklahoma tornadoThat’s a question that seems to creep up over and over again in the last 2 years.  My parents retired and moved close to my family.  Two months later, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  After some glimpses of hope, all hopes were dashed a few months later and nearly 6 months later, she was gone.  Why God, why?

My good friend and his wife had their third son.  There were some complications at the birth and he ended up in the NICU for the first week or so of his life, but he pulled through okay.  A few months later, he was getting sick and they couldn’t figure out what it was.  After some tests, they discovered a brain tumor which seemed operable.  After the operation, it was discovered that the cancer had spread and he died on his 6 month birthday.  Why God, why?

My father struggled mightily when he retired and losing my mother was just a portion of the total loss that he had experienced.  His health went into a steady decline.  Nearly two years after losing my mom, I lost my dad as well.  So much for retirement.  Why God, why?

Looking at pictures of the devastation in Oklahoma.  Buildings crushed.  Many dead and injured.  A path of destruction that will take a long time to recover from.  Lives forever changed.  Why God, why?

Whenever we experience difficulties like this, our natural tendency is to ask that question, “Why?”  Of course we want an answer, but would any answer really suffice?  There are certain times in life when no answer can really help, no matter how great, no matter how theologically valid, no matter how relevant it might be.

My answer, over and over again, is that the world is broken, it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.  Then it seems that the next question waiting in the wings is, “Couldn’t you have stopped it, God?”  Not sure I have a good answer for that one though.  Do we expect God’s intervention every time something bad threatens us?  Do we expect that the world will be a completely safe and harmless place?

Answers fall short.  I can’t bring myself to blame God, but I know that some can.  Some may claim that this is the reason they can’t believe in God, how could a loving God allow this to happen?

What’s one of the first things that we hear about though?  It’s about those who are dropping everything that they are doing to lend a helping hand.  It’s about those who are giving of their time, resources, and money to aid those who have lost everything.  It’s about those who have found a way to reach out and love on those who have experienced loss.  In my mind, that’s where God is in all of this, he’s right there as people come alongside other people in love, care, and concern.

Bad things happen in life, but how do we respond?  If it happens to us, do we experience others who come alongside us?  If it happens to others, are we the ones who drop what we are doing to lend a hand?  Maybe, God is there all along, we just haven’t been looking hard to see him.  Maybe he’s right there alongside the broken, the hurting, the wounded, and the weary.  Maybe he was there the whole time.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (The Message), “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”