When tragedy and terrible evil strikes, especially striking the innocent, as happened this week in Connecticut, the question comes, "Where was God (If there indeed is a God) in this?"

This is the (reasonable?) question that always comes up when evil or tragedy strikes. As they mourn, the stricken town in Connecticut has decided to remove their community Christmas decorations. I understand, but an older picture of what Christmas really is would have made the symbols of a Christian Christmas powerfully healing in this time of loss and pain.

The first Christmas was accompanied by the narcissistic slaughter of scores of children by King Herod – but in that time, God was now Emmanuel, God with us – preparing for our ultimate rescue. As Evil senses its approaching demise, the fits of terrible rage are horrific. Why the fight is allowed we will only know clearly in another realm, but this much we know now – our hero, our good God, allows all for our (individual and collective) ultimate good.

For those who don't have a relationship with God, the question of "Where was God" certainly makes sense and would naturally come up. For those of us who have a relationship with God, have come to know him as our Creator, Redeemer, and Friend, we know that whatever the circumstance He allows, He is there with us, in us, mourning or celebrating with us; He is our Comforter and our Hope for a time of restoration and reunion that will never be taken away.

God is with us – the birth of Christ declared him to be Emmanuel, "God with us," and so it has been. He lived and fellowshipped and worked among us for a short while 2000 years ago. And once He physically left this world, He sent another part of Himself to us – the Holy Spirit – to reside in anyone who would invite Him in. 

Our God knows what we suffer, what we are going through – in Christ He has been there Himself. He has suffered unimaginable pain, and violence, and cruelty, unfair and unwarranted accusations, and judgment and treatment – taken on voluntarily, for us, as a gift to us to secure our eternal salvation and restoration.

From God's point of view, we, as a race, freely chose to walk away from Him, the source of life – and because of this we deserve, as a race, nothing from Him. But in His perfect love, He has found a way to combine a respect for our free will (which we exercised very poorly), with a way to redeem and restore a terrible brokenness in our race (and in us individually) – if we allow Him to. 

So how might politics enter into all this "God-talk," this "theology," if you will? I am so grateful for what my nation has been in its history, understanding that a common dependence on and respect for God will more likely yield a healthy and good society.

But it would be folly to expect the structure of government to save us – even a government that acknowledges and respects the Judeo-Christian heritage we began with. As much as I would hope for and pray for a return to government that reflects our Christian roots, in the final analysis, it is Emmanuel, "God with us" – within each one of us individually – that will ultimately restore our hearts and souls, our homes, our communities, our society, our nation.

We cannot expect to have "Christian" laws (as well-intentioned and potentially valuable as they might be) imposed on a godless society, and have those laws magically transform us. As our hearts become transformed by the love and grace of a very good God, our laws and common culture will likely begin to once again reflect those values.

But the change inside of us individually must come first. We have all been created in the image of God, whose goodness is profound and complex and mysterious – able to declare what perfection looks like, and yet deal lovingly and patiently and wisely with great imperfection.

This is a God who can fully love "the sinner," and at the same time fully hate and despise "the sin." This is a God who offers grace (a grace bought with His innocent blood on a cruel cross meant for evil but turned to profound and ultimate good). This grace is offered as an alternative to the condemnation we deserve when we are "caught in the act." This is a God who then admonishes, with that grace and forgiveness, that we "go and sin no more."

And as He offers all this, His respect for our free will knows no bounds – He simply will not force his grace upon us. We must choose it freely, we must ask for and desire this gift – "if we confess our sin, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse." 

Salvation (connection forever with the only source of sustaining healing restorative life) is something we are invited to choose, but are free to choose to reject. If we choose to be separated from the Source of life, from Ultimate Love, it will be no different from choosing to go without oxygen in our present natural world – without it we may continue living for a time, but it won't last. 

As individuals, and as communities and societies, our only real hope is to become intimately reconnected with the only true source of life, of love, of meaning and purpose. This God-centered life will be lived with a meaning and purpose that cares constantly for others.

This "other-centered" life despises the Satanic lie of a narcissism that demands the gratification of self at any cost – even the horrible cost of the slaughter of innocent children and their caregivers – with the only penalty seeming to be a self-inflicted quick and painless end to ones pathetic existence (again, with no thought as to how a righteous God might have to deal with one's soul in what might come after this earthly existence). 

The amount of darkness we face in these times seems overwhelming, beyond our ability to even comprehend it, let alone rail against it, but rail against it we must – with hope and confidence in the bigness and goodness of our God, and the promise of His ultimate victory over darkness.

I am confident that this victory will come whether or not any one of us participate in that victory. It is God's kindness and grace to us to give us the privilege of cooperating with Him in this great quest for the ultimate restoration and salvation of mankind.

Our prayers, our words, our actions do make a difference. My prayer is that we catch a vision of the great privilege of being invited to participate in this great struggle for the victory of Good over evil!

Christmas, Emmanuel – God with us – indeed...

Blessed Christmas to us all, even in (and especially in) this time of profound pain and loss –

With love,

Ricky Lee Jackson

What Fox News Says About Ricky Lee Jackson:

"He’s the new Joe the Plumber; now there's Rick the Doctor...
Some have joined Tea Parties, stormed town halls, others like family practice physician and country recording artist Ricky Lee Jackson have taken to the microphone... 
he wants his country back." 
~ Fox and Friends / Fox News
 

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