Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No Time For Pretending

What a horrific episode in Colorado on the weekend of December 9. A disturbed young man, Matthew Murray, first went to a YWAM (youth with a mission) training center in Arvada and killed two people and then went to New Life Church in Colorado Springs and killed two more innocent people.

A church security guard shot Murray in the church hallway before he could kill anyone else. Murray then took his own life with a self-inflicted shot. Apparently he was loaded with guns and ammo and planning to kill many.

What would you imagine the gathering for worship at New Life Church to be like the following Sunday? Unfortunately I’ve been around enough churches for enough years that I truly feared the church would put on a demeanor of “overcomers who will fear no one but God” and similar bravado. I believe in being an overcomer and having high trust in God that casts out our fear.

But I also believe that trauma, tragedy and loss deserve sadness, grief and mourning. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

According to the Denver Post, Sunday December 16 the church was filled and Pastor Brady Boyd (pictured) led the church in praying for the families of the victims and then preached about tribulations, noting that many people in many places have endured some of life’s greatest difficulties.

One church member was quoted as saying that we’ve mourned long enough and that “it’s time to put this behind us.” Well, come on. One week, seven days is by no means too long to spend on significant life issues like, “Why did this happen?”; “How do we forgive someone like Murray?”; “How do I begin to feel safe at church again?”; and so many more questions.

Most of us are in a hurry to put painful experiences in the past. However, most of us who hurry don’t really succeed in putting painful experiences quickly into the past. Rather we end up suppressing the pain and then pretending that everything is okay.

To those in pain everywhere, Colorado, Omaha, Iraqi and Afghan battle fronts, the unemployed, the sick, the abused and so many more, turn to God with your pain. The Bible says, “Cast your cares upon Him. He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

In prayer and with friends who will “be with you” in painful times, ask your questions aloud, cry, be angry and by God’s grace filled process, begin to trust and hope again.

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