How Long, O Lord? 

I’ve watched and listened to with fascination over the past 48 hours the continuing coverage of the horrible shootings at Fort Hood. I’m drawn to the news stories for several reasons.

My brother-in-law was stationed there for a couple of years right in the middle of the Gulf War. He and my sister lived there at Fort Hood. Carrie-Anne and I visited there, met their neighbors, played ping-pong and air hockey in the rec center there, and shopped at the military store there. On two different occasions, Brent was designated for deployment to the Persian Gulf. On both those ocassions they gave him less than 48 hours notice to tell Sharon and their families goodbye. And we prayed. And prayed. And prayed. And on both of those ocassions, after he had been packed and processed, the orders changed and his unit was told to stay put in Killeen.

Their daughter, my first niece, was born at Darnell Army Medical Center there at Fort Hood. Her birth, on New Year’s Day 1991, interrupted my plans to watch the #3 Longhorns and the #4 Miami Hurricanes in the Cotton Bowl. We spent two days at that hospital on that base for Cassie’s arrival.

A few years later Carrie-Anne and I saw Foreigner at a rock concert on base they called “HoodStock”.

Twice after that I called high school games at the Killeen Kangaroos football stadium.

And so, while I don’t know anybody in Killeen anymore, we do have some very deep and vivid memories of some wonderful family times there. I’m watching this thing unfold and listening to the horror and watching the tears of the families and feeling deeply impacted. This is a truly horrible thing that’s happened here. It’s awful. It’s evil. How Long, O Lord?

“Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” ~Psalm 10:1

And I recall the age-old statement of the skeptic: If God is good, he’s not really God. And if God is really God, he’s not good. In other words, God could have prevented what happened at this army base in Central Texas. The fact that he didn’t must prove he’s not good. And if he could have prevented it, he must not be the powerful God we think he is.

Wrong. And wrong again.

How Long, O Lord?In times of tragedy — in our own lives, in our local communities, globally — we hold on in faith to the anchor of God’s eternal love for his creation. We know he loves. We know his great love is the force behind everything our Father does and everything he allows.

The truth is, we don’t see everything yet. We don’t fully understand everything. We’re assured that our God is working out everything according to his purposes. And we know that his purposes are driven by what’s in our best interests and what’s best for the redemption of his creation.

So, we trust and we pray.

It’s OK to appeal to God’s omnipotence and his righteousness and declare to him that we don’t understand. It’s OK to question God and wrestle with him and beg him to change things. These kinds of prayers actually reveal our deep faith. They say to God, “We know you are just and righteous and all powerful; we just don’t understand.”

“Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” ~Psalm 62:8