For Californians, starting last week and extending on, the drama and trauma is seemingly unending. I still hear the anguished voice of a mother angrily shouting into the camera, “I don’t want your prayers, I don’t want your thoughts; I want gun control now,” in the aftermath of the shooting rampage in Thousand Oaks. We are burning up from the North to the South. Whole communities are totally destroyed. Dozens of lives have been lost. We are reeling from fire and a rain of bullets. How can we, especially those directly impacted, keep a perspective focused on thankfulness at times like these and under such circumstances? How do we comfort one another?
For many of us Christ-followers on the “outside looking in” I think the first place to start is at the foundation of our lives. James Taylor wrote and sang in Fire and Rain, his iconic song about deep life struggles and losses, “Won't you look down upon me, Jesus. You've got to help me make a stand. You've just got to see me through another day. My body's aching and my time is at hand. And I won't make it any other way.” I do not know if James Taylor was a Christ-follower at the writing of this song or if he became one, I do feel this poetic stanza is the heartfelt cry of a man desperately in need. Taylor reaches for strength and hope outside himself. We too, must do so. We too must seek Jesus and trust Him to see me though another day.
In the Bible we see that David was a man of great passion and experienced great struggle through the fire and rain of his life. Pastor Ed this past weekend gave us a glimpse into this life and insight to how David navigated such troubles. Psalm 63 proclaims David’s intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe, the One True God. And it is this relationship that not only sustained David; it empowered him to greatness despite an avalanche of hardships. As we traverse difficulties or see those around us in trauma, we must remain steadfast and focused on the One True God. We must sing our own Psalm 63, praising and thanking Jesus.
In times like these, in the presence of those who have lost much, we sing our Psalm directly to God and not to them. To those who have suffered greatly we adopt the words in Romans 12, “Weep with those who weep.” And when the right time comes, we “rejoice with those who rejoice.” Until that time comes, we give the gift of grace, of silent embrace, and loving presence. As appropriate we take action concretely and compassionately. And even though this distraught mother said she did not want prayers, we in our personal time, pray that God will bless them and the Lord would keep them; the Lord’s face would shine on them and be gracious unto them; and lift His countenance upon them and give them peace.