As Christmas approaches this December, I remember the Sandy Hook School shooting that left 20 children and 6 adults dead in December 2012. The horror shook the nation. Across the media and internet, the question of ‘why’ was everywhere. People asked, “Where was God in the midst of this atrocity?”
That tragedy has since been followed by many other school shootings. The question of ‘why’ arises each time. I wonder if I might suggest a connection. The courts have ruled that it is illegal to read the Bible, pray, or put on a Christmas pageant in our public schools. Jesus is not to be mentioned by chaplains in our military, another arena of mass shootings. Manger scenes have been banned from the public square. It is illegal to post the Ten Commandments in the lobby of a courthouse or in the hallways of our schools. “Happy holidays” is sometimes insisted upon rather than “Merry Christmas” as a common greeting. Santa Claus is seen everywhere, but where is Jesus this Christmas? Is there no room for Jesus in America anymore?
In the wake of the tragic shooting in the Connecticut school, someone posted on Facebook, “God, why would you allow such a tragedy?” In my mind, I heard God answer, “I am not allowed in schools anymore.” There is a scripture that is worth considering, “Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children (Hosea 4:6b, NKJV).
“Where is he?” That was the question the Wise Men asked as they entered Jerusalem. They had seen his star in the East. It was a sign to them that the King of the Jews (the Messiah) had been born. Where would they find Him? They followed the star day after day and month after month until they were in the vicinity of Jerusalem. When they turned to go into the city, they were sure that they had arrived at their destination. The star which they had followed for so long disappeared. As they entered Jerusalem, they began to ask, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” They expected everybody to be excited. The birth of a King would be the talk of the whole city, but no one seemed to know. They did not find Him in this seat of government and religion as they supposed. As the Wise Men left the clutter of a fallen world behind, the star reappeared and guided them to the Christ Child. He had been born in an animal stall, in a manger, because there was no room in Bethlehem’s inn.
Jesus may not be welcome in our public schools or government offices today, but I think you can still find Him. Where is He? You will find Him in many good Christian teachers modeling Jesus before their students and teaching things which are not in their textbooks. I think you will find Jesus in a Christian doctor or nurse standing beside the bed of a dying patient, holding their hand, praying with them, offering comfort and hope as they take their last breath. Where is Jesus? I think you will find Him in those toiling in an unfamiliar culture to make Jesus known to someone who has never heard His name. You will find Him in a cell, where a prisoner has been beaten almost to death because they will not deny their faith. You will find Him in a lonely mountain cabin where an elderly couple sits before the glowing embers in their fireplace, reading their devotions and saying their evening prayers. You will find Him in the heart of a single mom, unable to provide gifts for her children, trying to hide her tears while she prays that somehow Jesus will visit their home and leave gifts for her children. You will find Him in a small country church where a simple preacher stands behind his pulpit with tears in his eyes for those who do not know Christ as their Savior and pleads with them to open their hearts to Him and be saved. In folks like these, the guiding light can still be found. Follow this true ‘light’. It will lead you to Him.
Do you have room in your heart for Jesus? Is Jesus standing outside, knocking on your heart’s door, waiting to come in? Let this be our prayer: “O come to my heart, Lord Jesus; There is room in my heart for thee” (Emily E.S. Elliott).
*Thanks to Rev. Billy F. Gerald, now deceased, whose last letter to me prompted this devotional.
~ Brother Roy