Thursday, April 18, 2013

Grief Before Blame. Always. Then Mercy.

It's a real place. These are real people. And they're shocked, devastated, and weeping. Those are my thoughts as I sit here in tears thinking about the tragedies that have happened in our nation recently.

I grew up in a small town in Texas. So, the tragedy in West yesterday evening hits home a bit more for me. I've been through West. My family always looks forward to swinging by the Czech Stop for kolaches when we go home for a visit.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but when I first heard of the fire and explosion, the thoughts of others and myself were that we hoped the Czech Stop wasn't damaged. We had no idea the devastation. We didn't realize people had died. We had just latched on to what we knew personally.

Tragedy is awful anywhere. But when it hits a small town like that, everyone suffers. If the death toll of 60-70 people holds up (and I earnestly hope it does not), it means every single family in that town has probably suffered the loss of a loved one -- maybe not their immediate family, but a cousin, an uncle, a neighbor. Someone close. Someone too close to be lost.

There is a time to look for answers. There is a time to find out what we can do better. But now is not it. 

I truly believe we lose a part of ourselves when we choose not to grieve with those who are grieving. To ignore the pain, skipping right to the anger and the blame, is to callous our skin and harden our hearts.

And oh my gosh never is the time for sarcasm. Nor belittlement. Can we get through one disaster without the idolatry of politics once again ruling the day?

How long was it after the horrid tragedy in Sandy Hook that our facebook feeds filled up with gun control debates, both for and against? Children had just been viciously stolen from their families, and already people were arguing with each other instead of praying for those picking up the pieces of their devastated lives.

When I first saw the photos and memes after Sandy Hook, I instantly thought about those parents and wondered how awful that must be to see. I would just be screaming at the top of my lungs, "I'm broken and hurting here! Can't you see?!?!? I'm burying my child at Christmas. Don't you care?"

The previous goes to everyone. But to any Christians reading this, I would add this:

I know that there are many more helpers than hurt-ers out there. Their stories are beautiful and encouraging. And on the scene, you see them clearly. But from a distance, they're harder to recognize amidst all the other junk. We can either magnify their light or dim it by our words and actions.

Jesus did not come to the earth nor to die for our political causes. Neither, liberal nor conservative, no matter how righteous they may seem. No matter how much of an expression of our faith they may seem. Judas made that error -- there was plenty wrong in their country that needed fixing. And he betrayed Jesus in doing so.

Let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus, not Judas.

Let us resolve to bind up the broken hearts. Comfort those who mourn. Rebuild the ruins. Be the tender-hearted hands and feet of Jesus.

And ignore the mocking debates in Herod's Court.

It's easy for me to get caught up in them, too. I have an opinion. Someone is wrong on the internet and I feel the need to clarify. But I've resolved it's a waste of time. People generally do not want to be confused by the facts. Instead, I'm determined to:

  • Pray. 
  • Volunteer. 
  • Give. 
  • Get trained. 
  • Help the first responders and second responders -- 
  • the Red Cross, 
  • my denomination's Disaster Relief Agency, 
  • a mission of mercy organized in my town or your town...

To do anything else, I believe, is to risk betraying Jesus. And the hurting. May I never do that again.