This past week, our nation started grieving over the destruction from the two blasts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Questions emerge in this type of destruction: where is God is the midst of this? Why would a good God allow suffering to happen? How do we comprehend and cope with this type of loss? At times the questions can seem overwhelming, the pain too much to bear.
In moments like this, social media explodes with the comments of others. My Facebook wall filled with new status updates and links from friends posting new information about what happened and sharing prayers for the people involved. Some speculate why things happen and give an altar call for our country to apologize for sin and modify behavior. A few claim God was involved, using destruction to get the attention of a nation.
However, the God I see is a God of compassion moved with the pain facing his creation. He is the God who allowed Elijah to mourn in the wilderness – providing sustenance and rest (1 Kings 19). He is the God of the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, listening to their pain then responding by revealing who He is (Luke 24). He is the God of Job who heard the cries of his anguish then showed His goodness through his creation. He is the God of Peter, who gently restored him despite the bad choices made in the midst of pain (John 21). He is gentle, compassionate, near. He sees the need and cares.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18
Amidst this destruction, one quote attributed to Mr. Rogers has repeatedly appeared on Facebook. He said:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and am always comforted by realizing there are so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
In times of destruction, we can look for the helpers, but greater than that, we can look to The Helper. For this reason, the Holy Spirit came to be our comforter.
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:25-27
The Holy Spirit comes to soothe the pain. To speak to the brokenness and bring us healing. He is our forever friend. He sees the tears cried alone in darkness. He hears the questions and groaning of his creation. He tastes the bitter sting. He feels the heart ache. He loves.
“Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
When hardship comes, it’s only natural for us to ask the tough questions and to grieve. God understands. He is a God who allows us to grieve — to sleep longer days waking only to eat, to vent our frustrations, to mourn what was. He listens to the cries of our anguish. He walks with us and takes interest in our story. And when it’s time, He reveals to us again who He is. He redeems mistakes made in the crux of destruction. He helps.
While processing Boston, let us remember that we have a Comforter. We can look for the Helper to meet us at the point of our pain. So, I run to Him, because He is here for me.
Run to the Helper; He is here for you too.
Father God, I thank you that you are moved with compassion towards us. You see our hurts, angst and pains and respond in loving kindness. We need you now, Daddy. We need you to comfort us. Be our Helper – wrap your arms of love around us. Walk with us through the grief and in your time; bring us through to the other side. We know you are good and we stand on that goodness today. We run to you, our Helper. In Jesus name, Amen.
Mary Elisabeth Harp