God is Great, Even When

God is great.

That’s what my pastor repeated on Sunday morning. The same Sunday morning there was a mass shooting that took place downtown Dayton, Ohio. Six and a half miles away from my home. The same Dayton that just a few short months ago, on Memorial Day 2019, record sized tornadoes tore their way through this city leaving many people homeless, injured, and forever changed this city’s people and landscape.

Dayton is my new home. It’s weird. It feels like home. A paradise even, yet still feels a little wonky and new.

You see, I moved here last year from Indianapolis. I lived in an area still considered downtown Indianapolis for sixteen years. My whole adulthood, actually, all I knew was Indianapolis. Every morning we’d turn on Fox 59 news for the weather and quick updates of what was going on in our city and the world. Like clock work there was always a report of a shooting . Someone had died from an act of violence every single day in Indianapolis. Many of those days it was more than one and sometimes it was upwards of 10-15. Honestly, it was so routine that I became desensitized to murder.

Murders: Gang related. Drug deals gone wrong. Wrong place, wrong time. Hate. Racism. Mental illness taken out on others.

Lives lost.

As Jackie Hill Perry puts it—Image bearers lost.

Image bearers.

Mmm.

I’m not sure the terminology “lives lost” has a meaning to us anymore. My generation has seen scrolling names of lives lost so frequently on the television that it seems surreal. It doesn’t slow us down. It’s a fact of life, maybe?

But the terminology image bearers—Those are God’s people. Ones he created to be in his image. For his purposes. For his Kingdom. For him to enjoy forevermore.

And those image bearers are gone.

Did they know God?

Did they get a chance to know his presence in their lives?

Did they get to live their lives to the fullest?

I grew up in a time when wars were happening and hate crimes or massacres were happening… but they weren’t on my home turf. They were in a place “far away.” They were people I’d likely never meet or know existed. I’m not sure when that reality changed for me. When I finally grasped I’m not necessarily as safe as I thought I was. Maybe it was 9/11? I’m not sure.

When we look at the shootings we want to place blame on the person, the family, the system, whatever it is. We want blame. Because once we find blame then we enact laws or protocols and that fixes things, right? Wrong.

While we’re looking for blame and finding fixes to the thing we blame, we are neglecting a very real issue—our hearts. It’s almost like we blame so we can ignore our own problem by fixing everyone else’s.

You see, as my pastor said this weekend, “Tragedy is an opportunity to re-evaluate our lives.” We get to take the opportunity to get silent before God and have him heal us from the inside out.

We are responsible for our heart’s conditions, too.
Are you hurting?
Do you have a pet sin that’s overwhelming you?
Do you struggle day in and day out with overpowering voices feeding you lies?
Are you facing your problems or desperately trying to avoid them?

I think sometimes we get so passé in our Christianity. We think, “Oh I have a relationship with Jesus, I just fine where I’m at right now.”

Just fine is not living a life of abundance on this side of earth, my friend. There is so much more. When we think in terms of “enough,” we need to be very careful. First of all, we are not enough. Mom’s you’re not enough. Dad’s you’re not enough. Nope. Did you know Jesus never said you nor I were enough? No. He said, “I come so that you may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). We aren’t enough. He is enough to give us life and live it fully.

If we were enough we wouldn’t need Jesus, am I right?

Here’s the thing: We all have our issues. Some of us may struggle with relationships. Others may struggle with addictions. Even some more of us may dabble in self-worth. Some people are so delusional they won’t admit or believe they struggle with anything. Regardless the issues we have, we get to heal. And sometimes, the hardest part is the first step of admitting we need help to change.

There are many tools out there to help us through the process of healing.

Therapy
Bible study
Community groups
Small groups
Volunteering
Recovery groups
Friends who have mentioned an area we might need to look into.
Accountability groups
Coaches in areas in our lives we need help (business, nutrition, spiritual gifts, fitness, etc)

These are simply tools. They do not provide healing, they provide support through the healing process. Healing comes from God. He is the ultimate Healer who is ready to meet us where we are and take us where we belong.

When tragedy strikes, God isn’t surprised. He knows what’s coming tomorrow. He’s the God who knows how much a mountain weighs and can balance hills on scales. He knows your heart—you can’t hide.  He knows your temptations, your pet sins, your unwillingness to let go in certain areas of your life—you can’t hide. He knows your blindspots—You can’t hide.

This weekend our pastor had us get on our knees in the pews, to be silent before God. It wasn’t until then did I really grasp the hurt of the people in this community due to the shooting. The audible sobs echoing through the worship center were felt so deeply inside me my eyes dripped in response.  I wasn’t crying. I was mourning. The innocence of this city had been stripped away and I was mourning alongside my community.

When tragedy strikes, so close to home, let’s not seek to blame. Let’s turn our focus inward and upward.

Are you ready to fully commit to a life surrendered to Jesus?
No matter the pain you might endure?
No matter the past hardships you may have to revisit?
No matter the outcome?

Are you ready to fully commit to a life surrendered to Jesus?

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hey, i’m Danielle

I love Jesus. I love my family. And I get joy from having a front row view of people growing toward their goals because of what I’ve taught.

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