No Answers: What I'm (Still) Learning About Joy

I’ve been wanting to write a follow-up to our November Joy series.  I’d had it planned out for a couple weeks.  

But everything changed last Friday morning.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary altered so much for so many.  My mother’s heart was completely shattered, as all four of my children are around that 5-10 year old range, the ages of the children at Sandy Hook.  And while I know there are children around the world who suffer, and hurt, and die every day, this event seemed painfully close to home.

My husband and I were out Christmas shopping that day and in a bubble until early afternoon . . . then I checked my phone.  I began to weep in the car.  I got home and turned on the television.  The words “20 children” absolutely took my breath away.

I stood there and wept.

How could this happen, how could something so terrible…so horrific…happen to innocent sweet babies?  Children of parents just like me, who loved their kids with their lives.  How would these parents breathe?

I stood there, wrecked, and cried out to God from my gut and asked Him…”where were You?”

I couldn’t stop the words from coming out.  How could my God, my God, whom I know and love and trust with my life, allow such evil?  

Saturday morning I woke up thinking about those parents again, knowing they had woken up to complete loss.  Tears again.

I felt this internal conflict going to war inside of me.  This pain hurt so deeply, the tears were right behind my eyes all day.  I couldn’t listen to Christmas music, I couldn’t bear to listen to radio happiness.  All I wanted to do was be near my kids.  No trite answer could fix this.  

God am I just a huge hypocrite?   A whole series on joy, weeks of talking about finding joy, being filled with joy.  God, was I to ignore the pain?  Be numb?  Stuff it away and put on my happy face?  Utterly impossible.

I received a text from my mother-in-law, one of the most joyful people I know.  She’d read and walked through our November Joy series with us, seeking to be filled with His joy.  But this sweet woman is a retired first grade teacher.  And the weight of it was so much

My joy meter is flat…struggling to rejoice…especially hard to “in all things give thanks”.  Come Lord Jesus.

I had no words, no answers.  I still don’t.  

What about you?  What has been your response to this pain?  How have you wrestled with your own questions?

I’m not a theologian.  Most of my friends aren’t either.  We are simple women who love our families and our children with all that we are, despite the fact that we live in a fallen, fallen world.  I do not have answers for this one.  But here are a few things that have been resonating in my heart.

1.  God does not condemn my questions.  This weekend, He very quietly reminded me of someone.  Someone who had the very same question I had, a godly woman who knew Jesus personally.  He reminded me of the words of Mary, found in the book of John, Chapter 11.

When Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  v. 32

“If only you would have been here!”  Can’t you hear the pain in Mary’s voice, her desperation as she fell at His feet?  She knew Jesus, she had seen Him heal others.  Why hadn’t He come?  Mary laid her shattered heart out there, in sheer agony and disappointment.  Jesus did not cast her aside or disown her.  He met her there in the midst of her heartbreak.  Read on.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept.  vs. 33-34

2.  Jesus weeps with us.  Jesus was so deeply effected by the moment that He was moved to tears.  For a moment put yourself in the scene and imagine.  Look at Jesus.  He is found there, with His friends, in tears.  Maybe He hurt because His dear friends were in so much pain.  Maybe He wept because He understood that the painful sting of death was something mankind had to endure.  He even knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead, He knew how this was all going to turn out, yet He was taken with the hurt of that moment.  And He wept.

My friends, we have grieved.  We have wept.  And we have no answers.  

We do, though, know how this turns out, that some day evil will be obliterated and will no longer co-exist with good.  There will be a day…a day when there will be no more tears, no more pain.  God will declare that is enough, and He will right what is wrong.

Until then, I can only live by His grace.  I will hold my own babies tighter and extend His grace more.  I will cry again for these families of Newtown, Connecticut, I’m sure of it.  

I will ask Him to remind me of His presence, that He walks with me.  

I will breathe in moments of joy with a different intentionality.  I will continue to give thanks for what I still have.  And I will stand in the truth of His Word that although there is a season to mourn, His joy will indeed be found.

Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.  Ps. 30:5

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8 Comments

  1. Brandy Turnage on December 18, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Thank you for this. I so needed it!

  2. Kerrie Green on December 18, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Thank you Julie…what a healing message!

  3. Christie L Suttle on December 18, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Thank you so much Julie. I have been struggling with this as well. I just wanted to say “thank you”.

  4. stunkard on December 18, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Thank you. Just what I needed to hear this morning. Words still fail me even though I tried to write about it on my own blog. I couldn’t stop the tears.

  5. denvsut@gmail.com on December 18, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Beautifully honest and encouraging!

  6. Drew Kenyon on December 18, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Thank you Julie….. tears cascading as I read- I so needed to hear these words this morning and to have that continual reminder of Christ’s new mercies every morning. Blessings- Drew

  7. Keri Mills on December 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you for your tears as much as your words. I felt as if I was just an overly emotional female. No one else around me had broken down in a fit of tears or fallen on knees and face in prayer. The suffering of the world has truly taken a tole in my heart this year, and I just haven’t been feeling very joyful with the Christmas spirit eluding me. There is comfort in shared feelings, honesty and pain. Sometimes healing and ultimately joy comes first from tears.

  8. Shawna on December 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Thanks Julie. Needed to be reminded of Joy. Love the verse one of my favorites. It is so true.

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