Being home sick today gave me a lot of time to think about what today was going to be like for my youth. I was praying last night and today for you. Praying especially about the ramifications of Elizabeth Olten’s murder, for the things that would be said about the accused, for the many rumors and harsh words that would be said.
That was before I even learned about the death this morning of Bill Currie, a teacher at JCHS.
I hurt that you have to face such difficult life issues ever – but especially at this age.
But I can’t protect you from things that happen because the world is made of people who make mistakes, people who hurt others, people who are selfish and hurt others when they are hurting.
God never promised that bad things wouldn’t happen. From the moment God made the choice to let us choose whether to love God or to love self, sin has been a heart-breaking problem. Not just for humans but for God as well. God grieves with those that are hurting. God was with Elizabeth during that horrible evening and was heartbroken for what she was going through but also because someone else that God created was the one causing the pain. No matter what you hear, God does not cause bad things to happen.
I believe God also grieves at the way people are reacting to this tragedy. I’ve not seen such hate and lynch-mob mentality in this area before. The things people have said and have written about the 15-year-old suspect are fueled by fear, anger and hate. They are not the voice or heart of God.
I want to challenge you not to join in on these behaviors. Don’t be one who makes vicious statements about what should happen to the person who killed Elizabeth. Don’t be the one who says at the cafeteria table that you hope she gets what she has coming. Don’t be the one who points and says mean things to those who befriended her. They have enough that they are dealing with during this time.
Instead, keep your eyes on Christ and model him in all your words and actions. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. And don’t assume what that vengeance will look like. It isn’t ours to decide.
In the hallways of JCHS, we need to see Christ more than ever. That only happens when you, Christ’s ambassadors, commit to being the hands, feet, words, and heart of Jesus. When you are tempted to hate, pray. When you are tempted to say something disparaging about someone, say something kind instead. When people preach hate, preach peace.
“Confess your weaknesses to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. ” James 5:16
An event a couple of years ago that made a huge impact on many folks was the forgiveness given by an Amish community against a man who killed five innocent children. They also helped the killer’s widow and children. Their forgiveness was so different, so unique that it brought so much attention on that issue. By their forgiveness, not only were they able to heal over time, more importantly they were able to glorify GOD in all things. Read about it here.
May we also have such a witness.
I love you. And I’m praying for you and our community.