Last night, a deranged man opened fire at a movie theatre, killing 12 and injuring over 50. The movie theatre is around 25 minutes from my house.
You've seen the news or heard about it. I'm not going to rehash it.
I've been writing this month on ways to find joy. I could've easily skipped today. Easily.
But here's the thing. Today, I have cried a lot and hurt for those involved and their families. I'm angry, not just at that guy, but at the enemy of our hearts, the evil one, who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5) I'm angry that he is rampant, alive, active and decimating the hope of so many.
So, do I have joy? Well, yes.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not happy. At all. But joy is not happiness or giddiness. Joy is deeper than that. It is an assurance that God is in control.
Today, whether I understand it or not, God is in control.
Want joy today? Look to Him and believe He's in control. And just be.
My friend Lucille Zimmerman, a counselor, posted this on Facebook today:
"The one thing we know about trauma, from all the research, is that people sort of know what they need, instinctively. They will most likely want to talk, and tell the story over and over and over. Let them. Don't give them advice. Be there for comfort. Let them be around calming people. Don't judge their reaction. Some may laugh and some may cry. Others my act like it's no big deal. Just allow them room to process it the way they need to. People are very resilient and most will heal their minds on their own. PTSD can't be diagnosed for at least 3 weeks. Until then it's Acute Stress Disorder."
Her words helped me give myself the freedom today to take care of my heart. I didn't give in to that subtle guilt that says I can't be affected by this because I don't personally know any of the victims. I didn't suppress the tears when they came. I didn't tell myself to be "Christian-y" when I got furious. I gave myself permission to turn the TV off when I felt watching more of the coverage would just push me into a hole of despair. I just allowed myself the freedom to just be.
However, during today I kept in constant touch with God. I kept looking to Him, remembering, affirming and believing that HE IS IN CONTROL.
Ergo = Joy.
I am assured that this was no surprise to God. I am confident that the God of the universe who loves James Holmes, the gunman, who died for James Holmes and each of the victims, I am confident that THAT GOD is hurting, too, simply because we hurt. He loves us so much.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
He is with you. He is with me. He and his angels are comforting those who grieve and whispering courage to those in shock.
God IS in control.