So said Rahm Emanuel in November 2008 on the eve of Congress passing an enormous economic stimulus package designed to jump-start the economy and get the country out of recession. I’m pretty sure Emanuel meant it to mean that crisis changes the mood of the country. So, if you’re a politician, a crisis is a golden opportunity to do something you might have had to fight really hard for if the crisis weren’t a factor.
And I think that’s the case with Sandy Hook. And I wish everyone would just shut their mouths. (I’m looking at you Mike Huckabee!) I don’t really understand why every politician and talking head feels they have some duty to weigh in on the tragedy at Sandy Hook. As if they have some authority to speak on it. As if anything they say can comfort broken and grieving hearts. As if their mortal words can stop another crisis from occurring. As if, as if.
In her memoir about working in the Dutch Resistance to the Nazis in World War II and then surviving life in a concentration camp, Corrie ten Boom wrote that the one good thing about the tragedy of war was that churches were packed. In darkness like that, souls turned to a flickering flame. When all that people could do had been done to help and protect and alleviate and comfort, God could work. And people held out their hearts to be warmed by this perfect comfort. God’s good news spoke into darkness and won.
The timing of tragedy in the days before Christmas really gets to me. As souls longing for heaven, whether we know and acknowledge it or not, we experience a weird tension in times like this. Tragedy at once exists alongside the beauty of redemption, the groaning weight of Fall mingles with the reality of not-yet-but-coming-Grace. Hope swells within us richly as we march forward toward the day. And as the night falls on Dec. 24, we sense within us a quiet anticipation. Acknowledged or not, it urges each of us to breathe in those quiet moments in a barn and take part in this miracle of God resting his head upon hay and grass and dust. Mess and glory. Humanity and divinity. And some of us sit up at the table and feast while others pass the table by, not knowing the fulfillment they will miss and still craving a sustenance available only at that banquet table.
Maybe that’s the best way to not waste a crisis. To hope with expectant longing that Christ will come again soon, that surely this suffering has an end and will draw near a mangled heart and make it whole. Come Lord Jesus.