Add ‘Sutherland Springs’ to the list this pastor penned in his reflection for ‘Questioning’ in ReThink Church.
Columbine . . . 9.11 . . . Sandy Hook . . . Pulse Night Club . . . Michael Brown . . . Trayvon Martin . . . Dallas . . . Philando Castile . . . London . . . Paris . . . Charleston . . . Antioch . . . Manchester U.K. . . . Hurricane Harvey . . . Irma . . . Puerto Rico . . . Wildfires … s o m a n y m o r e
I’m tired of waking up to see things on the news that I don’t understand. It feels like being underwater and not being able to breathe. The moment that I begin to smile again, not on my face but in my soul, I then wake up the next day to something else.
I am struggling.
I struggle to find how I can make a difference. I struggle when to speak and where to be silent. Does my voice carry anything in the midst of everything going on.
I am broken.
There are days I just want to give up. There are days I want to simply try to escape…but to where? This stuff is everywhere. People who are evil aren’t just here. The whole world is broken.
But I’m a Christian. I’m a pastor.
For those reading this who are Christian: Yes I know the Bible verses. Yes, I know the cliches. I’m tired of the cliches. I’m clinging to the verses. But I don’t want to simply cling to them, I want be held by them. I know I’m suppose to be strong, but it’s hard recently.
As a youth pastor, I cry for my students. How are they coping with all of this? It’s hard enough for those of us who remember a time where, for whatever reason, this wasn’t on the news every day. It wasn’t in front of our face, on every platform, 24/7. But these students… this is all they know. How do I let them know it’s going to be OK when I’m wondering if it will, too.
Will it be OK?
There was a time in my life when, in the midst of a personal tragedy, I ran. I ran away from community. I ran away from the church. I ran away from my faith. I ran away from Jesus. I ran away from God.
I’ve asked the question: “If God is a God of love then why did ________ happen?”
I am tired of hearing that “everything happens for a reason.” I’m angry.
What type of belief is that? Would you really tell that to the parents of children that were killed going to a concert? Would you tell that to the people of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico? Would you tell that to a school-aged student who just lost her dad?
For the one reading this, feeling like you’re just done with God in the midst of all this: I first say that I understand. I’ve felt that, too… But if you will give me the honor to speak into your life for a moment: I found nothing but more isolation and hurt down that road. I didn’t find any more answers.
There may never be full answers but there is strength in the arms of Jesus.
I’m not giving up, although I’m tired. I’m not giving up, although I’m struggling. I’m not going to be quiet, but I’m going to continue to learn.
I’m not going to let hate win, but I will continue to respond in love.
I will put people before policy and politics.
I will put on a pot of coffee, kick up the crock pot, open up our door, and pull out the chair for our tables to be full. I will listen.
I will not give up on God.
I will continue turn to Jesus.
I will rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
I will run towards community, to the church.
I will cling to the word of God, where it says “to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
I believe God doesn’t cause everything to happen, but that God stands with each of us each day, in every situation.
I believe Jesus gives a peace that surpasses understanding.
I believe his grace and love is sufficient for all things. So even though I’m tired, hurt, struggling, angry, and don’t understand… I stand. I cling to these things I do understand.
I cling to Jesus, not cliches, and will continue to run to him, even though I don’t have the answers.
The only way evil wins is when we give up.
God is Love. Embrace Grace. Embrace Jesus.
Join Me Running To Jesus!
~Pierce Drake serves as the student pastor for middle school and high school at Providence United Methodist Church. For over nine years, Pierce has served churches both in the U.S. and abroad. He lives just outside Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Claire, and their mini-Australian Shepherd, Pippa.