"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook

Heal: to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment. (2) To bring to an end or conclusion, as conflicts between people or groups, usually with the strong implication of restoring former amity; settle; reconcile: They tried to heal the rift between them but were unsuccessful.

He heals the brokenhearted
  and binds up their wounds.
-Psalm 147:3 

Sandy Hook Elementary

Its been a little over three days since the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and like many the grief, pain, and sadness I feel while watching the various news outlets is palatable. I have six children with three of them being under the age of eight, and when I look into their eyes, while I observe them in silence and without their notice I feel overwhelmed almost to the point of a panic attack imagining the same horrific event befalling upon them; my wife and I. And with all of those disturbing emotions being sadly entertained within me I can't for the life of me even begin to understand what they're going through. The nightmare that the good parents and people of Newtown are living leaves me without a single word that could be uttered to rightfully console them in their hour of need.

An hour that will most likely last for a lifetime.

In the end, it's remarkably troubling to even have typed the last paragraph.

In all actuality this was something I wasn't going to write about. Almost immediately text messages were sent, Facebook posts were posted and twitter was flush with people's perspective, opinions and pain. The conversation was political, religious and at times even sanctimonious. Sometimes the commentary was all the three at the same time. With all of this being said, it was the comments of two "Facebook friends" and the words of my pastor, Ken Murphy, that lead me to changing my mind and writing about the tragic event.

I must first say that 99.5% of all the post I read were so saddened by news that they were left feeling empty with the words they said. Words are just not enough. This is understandable, but with everything that was said two posts stood out to me. They disturbed me. They hurt me. Both posts troubled me because of the harsh tone that was taken in scolding parents for the lack of time they spend with their children. The person that communicated those words is in his mid forties and has no children. The other Facebook post stated that too many people not involved in the Newtown tragedy grieve inappropriately and add too much drama to the situation. This person went on to add that animals are inhumanely killed daily and very few people even take notice. Most times, if not always, I do not respond, but this time I couldn't help myself.

My response was one word and its definition: 

Empathy: the intellectual identification with or vicarious  
experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

The response to my response was equally disturbing, at least in one case. The first person, upon further review, posted that his words were insensitive and what he was trying to say didn't come out correct. He went on to say that we are all hurting over this unthinkable situation. I agree with him. We are still "Facebook friends." 

The second response was less conciliatory and apologetic.

This person went to great lengths to criticize my posting of the word "empathy" and its definition. She even went as far as to refer to me as "boo". She stated that she is empathic to the many various tragedies we see every day and does not single out one over another, besides, she laments, what about animal cruelty. I thought her response was pathetic.

We are no longer "Facebook friends." 
I'm not necessarily sure eliminating her as a Facebook friend was the mature thing to do; the appropriate thing to do, but in my heart it's tough for me to spend time, whether in person or on Facebook, with someone that has such a callous heart, and poor perspective, towards those that are hurting so deeply.

I wish the person no ill will, we just don't have very much in common.

The other reason I decided to comment on this situation is because the words by another person that enlarged my perspective and reaffirmed a couple beliefs I already had. The person was Ken Murphy and his words were tangible, sustaining, and comforting.

Allow me to share. 

Tradgedy has a not so funny way of getting our attention. The affects are sobering and staggering. During times like last Friday we can find it very difficult to even breath. Many questions are asked and fewer answers are given when we encounter evil like Newtown has. 

Many times, if not always, the words are spoken; "Where is God?" How can this happen? Why would God allow this? The answer is God doesn't allow this and He isn't surprised by horrible act. He is deeply saddened, but no surprised. John 16:33 states these words:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In His word in Psalm 33:13-14 He gives us this truth:

"The Lord looks down from heaven
    and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes
    all who live on the earth."  

In the end, He promised pain in this life. The good news is He see's all men and He sits on the throne with complete dominion over all. Some pain we will experience is unthinkable, but God will always provide peace at some point, even in the most difficult of situations. I believe that. As one philosopher said: “I believe all suffering is at least potential good, an opportunity for good. It’s up to our free choice to actualize that potential. Not all of us benefit from suffering and learn from it, because that’s up to us, it’s up to our free will.”

And free will leads me to my second point.

It's important to remember that God has given man two of the greatest gifts he could ever be given: salvation and free will. God gives us the free will to choose Him and to choose doing good. The choice is completely ours. When you couple evil intentions and evil behavior with free will the potential outcome can be very similar to the one we saw last Friday. All the new laws and regulations that will certainly come out of this will never be able to conquer evil and free will. Evilness and free will is the most deadly combination known to mankind. Evil does have a flip-side, it's called goodness. 

Lastly, when we as country experience what we are currently experiencing what is to be our response? In a word it is Pray. Psalm 55:22 states:

"Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; 
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."

Matthew 11:28 shares this with the reader:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 

In the end, prayer is the key. Praying in God's spirit and asking for His comfort, His peace, His aid is life changing. I think it is also important to pray that God will take what satan caused for evil and turn it into good (Genesis 50:20)

I'm not sure what good will come about and what it will look like, but I trust God knows.

Finally, the painting below is the masterpiece of Thomas Eakins entitled The Gross Clinic

The Gross Clinic 
(click on the picture)

I love it. 

The detail, the color, everything about it is amazing to me.
The man in the center of Eakins' painting was Samuel David Gross (July 8, 1805 – May 6, 1884). Gross was an American academic trauma surgeon. Surgeon biographer Isaac Minis Hays called Gross "The Nestor of American Surgery." In 1875 Dr. Gross was is immortalized in Thomas Eakins', The Gross Clinic, believed by many to be the most important American painting of the nineteenth century. 

The Gross Clinic, or, The Clinic of Dr. Gross, is an oil painting on canvas that stands 8 feet by 6.5 feet. In the painting, Dr. Samuel David Gross, a seventy-year-old professor dressed in a black frock coat, lectures a group of Jefferson Medical College students. Included among the group is a self-portrait of Eakins, who is seated to the right of the tunnel railing, sketching or writing. Seen over Dr. Gross's right shoulder is the clinic clerk, Dr. Franklin West, taking notes on the operation. Eakins's signature is painted into the painting, on the front of the surgical table.

So there it is, one of my favorite pieces of artwork, if not my favorite, is a picture of a 19th century healer; a doctor. The great physician.

As I reflect upon one my favorite pieces of art and look deep into the storm that is Newtown I'm reminded once again for our collective need of healing; healing only that can be administered by a great physician, the greatest physician of all; Jesus Christ. 

" c. 1648 56. Attributed to Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn and Studio, Dutch.

Many of us suffer daily with an innumerable amount of troubles and trials; issues and concerns. They range from the irritable to the life threatening; from the inconvenient to the serious. When sin was introduced to mankind in the third chapter of Genesis God forewarned us that trials and tribulations, suffering and sickness would be our lot until He returns again. 

But he also promised to those who believe in him that He wouldn't necessarily remove the valleys in our life, but that He would journey with us through them.

Either you believe that or you don't.

I do believe it.

 "Head of Christ"
"Head of Christ," c. 1648 1650 by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch, is a part of the "Heads of Christ" series at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Psalm 147:3 states; "He helps the brokenhearted and binds their wounds." And David tells us in Psalm 103:2-3; "Praise the Lord, my soul, and never forget all the good he has done: He is the one who forgives all your sin, the one who heals all your diseases." 

In reading those pieces of scripture I realized that God is for me and not against me, and that disease isn't just about physical sickness and pain. Disease, sickness and pain, can be in the area of how we view ourselves or others, it can be defined by our lack of emotional or financial well being. 

Disease, pain can mean many things to many people, but the one constant is no matter the disease or the pain, God, the Great Physician, can heal us.

Healing doesn't always mean life for the cancer patient or for the victim of a violent crime.

Sometimes God's glory is displayed through death. I can't explain it nor do I want to experience it anytime soon, I just know that there are times that God does His best work in death and gains His greatest praise and glory when life sadly comes to an end. The greatest example of this is God allowing his son, Jesus Christ, to be crucified on the cross. 

I realize that it's highly unlikely I will ever own Thomas Easkins' masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, or any other of my most admired pieces of art, but with that being said, the most valuable thing I can attain is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A masterpiece that is less about religion and more about relationship. A relationship that is constant, consistent and caring. A relationship that will provide daily peace, wonderful comfort and unconditional love that is without prejudice and merit.
And though I will never have Dr. Gross framed prominently over my desk, I can, and do, have God's word planted in my soul, His forgiveness cemented in my mind and his love framed in my heart.

"Head of Christ"
 "Head of Christ," c. 1648 54. Attributed to Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch.

The Great Physician.

He is available to all who seek Him and who is in need of His healing power.

And He is available today, not someday, but today, for all those who want to come into the presence of The Great Physician
It is my hope for each victim and person affected by the horrific tragedy in Newtown will make an appointment with The Great Physician and allow Him to begin the healing process and in some way heal their broken heart.

That is my prayer. That is my hope. 

I love you Newtown. I'm so sorry for your pain. - Shawn 


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