Last Monday morning, sitting with my coffee on my back patio after some reading, I opened Instagram and began scanning stories.
I was devastated by the news of Las Vegas.
Pray for Las Vegas. A shooter. At a Jason Aldean concert.
I looked at the news app and found more details.
50 people dead and the number rising. Shocking footage. Shooting from a hotel room window.
I live five hours from Vegas and have driven there on a weekend trip for a concert, so my first reaction was to find out if any of my friends were in Vegas. Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Snap, no one I knew was there.
I momentarily thanked Jesus for keeping my people safe.
Then I went back to the news, and my heart was heavy. I told Aaron what I found, and we both grasped for answers.
Why? Who was the guy? What was the motive?
The beginning of 2017 was really hard. We lost two close friends, both of whom lived in the small town we came from. It was a hard time for our town, and it was a hard time to be away from the people in that town who we dearly love.
My friend wrote a post about the hurt at the beginning of this year and posed this question:
What if he doesn't bring those miracles?
I think over the past year, over our personal struggles with people, with circumstances.
Over our country's struggles with authority, with offense.
And my mind struggles, God, where are you?
Then he reminds me:
When our friend Vinita was being taken off of life support, my sister Alyssa and I were in church, 25 hours away, singing the resurrected King is resurrecting me and praying God would resurrect Vinita.
But his peace surrounded our time together, and his love was in every moment of the week we got to spend with our friends, our extended family. It wasn't an ideal situation, and we would all give much to hear V's laugh again, to listen to her try to tell a joke, to hear her dreams just one more time, but all I can do is trust God sees and is near.
My brother Nathan and his wife Bekah have been trying to have a child for years, and after two miscarriages, we all found hope in this little heartbeat that was lasting.
Then, at 24 weeks, her water broke.
At 28 weeks, baby Judah was born.
Bekah tells their story with such vulnerability in her blog, and she leans on Psalm 31:7: I will be glad and REJOICE in Your love, because You saw my suffering, You knew the anguish of my soul.
Baby Judah is now six months old and the light of our lives. The miracle on the other side.
God saw, and he was near in a different way.
These two stories have held the heaviest place in my heart this year, and that heaviness often creeps back in when I hear of things like Las Vegas, circumstances that are happening more and more often.
I don't get it. I can't wrap my head around the violence, the reason why, the hurt on all sides.
All I can do to keep my footing is trust God sees and is near to the brokenhearted.
Last Monday was a total fog. I couldn't focus, what with the political agenda and the hate that followed the violence, and just the total lack of love.
I knew that's not where God was.
He was with the families of the many people who lost someone during that act of violence.
He was bringing peace to the hearts of teenagers who are growing up in a world where they have to be afraid.
He was giving wisdom to the mommas and daddies who had to talk to their children about what to do in a violent situation.
He was loving.
So, after the events in Las Vegas, I was heavy. But the heaviness in my heart was only due in part to the violence--because I truly believe God's working out all the details surrounding that violence, and I can trust him to do that.
My heart was heavy because of the hate.
That's not where God is. He can't be there because he is love.
At the end of my heavy day, I simply asked God to help me show where he is through his love. That's all I can do.