As a small congregation stood to sing your praise one clear November morning, Lord, surely you were there.
As little ones snuggled in their mother’s laps while the pastor offered a prayer, Lord, surely you were there.
As a husband leaned against the pew to ask his wife what she was planning for their lunch, Lord, surely you were there.
And as a madman burst through the doors of a tiny country church, Lord surely you were there.
And yet, it is hard to see anything but pain, destruction, evil and senseless loss.
It is almost impossible to not ask Why? How? Were you really there?
When bullets were flying, God were you still there?
When children were dying, God were you still there?
In the midst of the violence, God were you still there?
In the deafening silence, God were you still there?
Jesus, it’s easy to “see” you while the worship songs ring out. It’s easy to imagine you right beside us as your Word is preached. It’s easy to feel your presence with us as the communion plates are passed. And it’s easy to observe Your goodness on the faces of little children as they scurry to show us their latest Bible craft.
When evil comes—when darkness tries to overwhelm the light—it becomes much harder to see you, to feel you, to trust that you are still there.
And yet You are.
You say that where two or more are gathered in your Name, you are in the midst of them.
You say we are not to fear for you are with us.
You say that you will never leave us or forsake us.
And so we trust that just as your presence filled that little church from the first words of that first hymn, your presence also filled that church from the moment the first evil shot rang out.
Oh that we could see with heaven’s eyes for just a moment. That you would give us just a glimpse of what lay just beyond our view that day.
For as evil walked into a worship service, Love leaned into twenty-six lives.
As shots of hatred and madness ricocheted through wooden walls, the arms of the Almighty wrapped tightly around His children.
I AM still here, He whispered.
You are not alone, He assured.
Welcome home my sweet children, he greeted.
Oh God, we cannot understand the why, but help us trust the Who.
Help us trust You. Help us see You. Help us love each other through You.
And God, right now, when all we want to do is crawl in a hole and stay there with those we love, fill us with your Strength. Anoint us with your love. Indwell us with your peace. And illuminate us with your light.
Lord, the darkness seems to grow stronger every day. But we know—we know—that light is stronger than darkness. We know that one day you will make all things right. It doesn’t seem that “one day” is much of a comfort for those who are mourning and grieving and hurting now, but I pray that the “one day” will soon be a comfort for them—and for us.
Jesus you are light. You are love. You are good. You are the light that no darkness can overcome.
Today, as we question, cry, and grieve, would you allow us to see even just a glimpse of your unfading light. Let us see you—more and more of you. Oh LORD, how we need you.
Even in our grief and fear, let us shine your light into the darkness.
And help us fight against fear. Help us love each other well. And help us lean into you.
It is in your everlasting, all-sustaining, most trustworthy Name I pray, amen.