Monday, October 2, 2017

Stronger Than Hate

Horrified by the shooting in Las Vegas. Angry. Sad. Wishing there were answers. Told Jeff, "I'm starting to doubt everything is going to be okay."

He said, "God did not wake up this morning and go, 'Oh my goodness! I had no idea!'"

I know... but what's He doing?

It's hard to see any good when I look at death tolls and injury reports. When I look at the hate. But then I read about those who dragged others to safety, those who delivered wounded to hospitals in their own vehicles, those who took down the shooter... those who were not overcome by evil but overcame evil with good... those who saw hate in all its weakness and responded with love in all its strength.

It reminded me of a story about Longfellow which I first heard a couple years after Dad's suicide. This story gave me hope again today, and I hope it encourages you.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lost his wife, Fanny, in July 1861.

The summer was hot, so Fanny decided to trim their daughter's hair while her husband napped. She saved the trimmings in a sealed envelope. In those days, envelops were sealed with hot wax, and as Fanny lit flame to melt the wax, a breeze set her dress on fire.

Fanny ran into her husband's study for help. Awakened from his nap, Henry threw a rug over Fanny to try to smother the flames. But the rug was too small, so he threw himself over her and stifled the flames with his own body as best he could. Fanny died the next morning, and Henry was so badly burned he was unable to attend her funeral.

The first Christmas after her death, he wrote in his journal, “How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.”

The next Christmas, his 1862 journal entry was, “‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”

On Christmas Day in 1863, Longfellow wrote nothing at all.

But on December 25, 1864, he wrote his poem “Christmas Bells.”

It begins with an observation which appears to be cheerful:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!
But Longfellow is not cheerful, as he goes on to explain:
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!”
Yes. Hate is strong, and it does mock the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men. But the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men was not written by men. It was written by God Himself. Hate is strong, but God’s love is stronger. Wherever evil attempts to flourish, God pours out grace and mercy in greater measure. Satan loses every battle he fights.

This Longfellow knew:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, goodwill to men!”
Last night in Las Vegas, The Wrong reared its ugly head. But then it failed. This morning, as more stories of heroes pour in, The Right prevails. Indeed, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21