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Peace on Earth?

December 17, 2012
By Laura Eisenga

It’s been three days since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and I still can’t wrap my mind around the horrors that happened there. I spent Friday morning helping in the Sunnyside Christian preschool, making secret presents for mom and dad, and laughing at the silliness of those kids as the snow fell. When I returned to my office, I heard the news. I continued to hear the news all day. My heart grew heavier and heavier for the loss of innocent children.

Sunday morning, I went to church with my family. We sent our kids up the stairs to their classroom and joined the adults in ours. Our assistant pastor was leading our discussion, and I’m always grateful for his fresh way with words. He too, was struggling with the questions that arise from a tragedy. Where is God? Why does He allow these things to happen? Are there really answers to these questions?

We read aloud words from the Bible, from Deuteronomy, Romans and 1 Thessalonians. We compared ourselves to the early churches and Christians. As we discussed, I found comfort in the responses from my fellow Christians.

Later, I sat with my husband in the wooden pew, watching our twins sing “Joy to the World” with the children’s choir. Ashton was singing heartily, but Addison was more interested in waving to her Grandma. My heart swelled with pride and also with hurt for the families mourning their lost children and their lost voices. Could joy really come to our world?

During our time of praise and worship, we sang one of my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” This song plays on our car CD player quite frequently during the year, even when it’s not Christmastime.

And those words, lyrics that I’ve sung so many times, struck a new chord with me yesterday.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells are ringing
Like a choir they're singing
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men.

That feels good, right? It sounds like all is right with the world. The feelings of happiness and excitement and peace seem to synonomously with Christmas, this "special time of year."

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, good will to men

But the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

And this is what it feels like when tragedy strikes. In despair we bow our heads in the realization that evil is in our world. The acts of hate mock the songs that call for peace on earth. Does anybody hear the bells anymore?

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does He sleep
The dark shall fail, the light prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they're ringing
Like a choir they're singing
And with our hearts we'll hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And here is our comfort: our God is not dead. He does not sleep. He will prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.

We pray that God’s peace will ring in your hearts this Christmas and into the New Year.

And we ask that you pray for our school, our students, our teachers, our parents and our supporters. Ask that God will reign in our school and in our students. Ask that God will put peace in our hearts. And ask that God will bless our school, our city, our state, our country and our world.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let Earth receive her King!

Marilynn VerSteeg says:
December 17, 2012 03:14 PM CST

I truly loved this post.  It becomes so clear in the time of trial that God uses us to fulfill his wishes that we always know that God is there when heartache occurs.  Thank You for the post.  Beautiful words.