“When were you happiest?” the question rang out through the tranquility of the evening. It had just enough of a barb on it to prick me and keep my mind churning on it the rest of the weekend. It was in the middle of a sermon Sunday morning about finding peace in the wake of the events at Newtown, Connecticut that I understood what brought me to the time when I was happiest. Only through reliving a bit of the chaos and the tragedy did I find my own peace. Walk with me and see how grief gives way to joy.

My world had come crashing down on a bitter December evening a few years ago. My girlfriend of nearly two-and-a-half years dumped me and all the hurt and insecurity I’d buried from my parents’ separation had been ripped from beneath the surface like a geyser. I struggled mightily the next two months, sinking into a deep depression, going to a dark place in my life. Then, one day I broke. I knew I lacked the strength to go on any further, so I crashed face first on my bed and wept bitterly. Through the deluge of tears and the gasping, I stammered out something along the lines of “I give up,” and I truly did that afternoon. In that very moment, I understood the breakup and I had peace about it. The next day, began the two months or so that I was genuinely joyful and I’ve never spent more time reading my Bible (and enjoying it) or praying before or since. My friend, that is the heart’s content.

Once again, the world came crashing down on Friday. Several lives ended. Senselessly. A season meant for friends, family and loved ones, pristine, shattered forever. I do not know this pain. It must be the greatest torment a parent can endure. Maybe even the greatest trial a human can endure. The fact is, many lives in those few moments were broken. And truly, my heart breaks for each one. But, this is not the end. However, for the story to progress, we have to turn back.

The Christmas story. God’s Son came to earth as a baby. He endured all the growing pains we have. He had friends, enemies, family. He experienced every emotion we do and saw about all there was to see in this world. He had been to every high and every low because there was no other way to God. That was exactly how it had to be. Jesus had to become powerless. Why? Because only through this process could we have someone to lift us up from where we are and bring us up to the heavenly highs. Because in these times, we need someone who can pick us up off the floor and piece back together our hearts in the way only God can. When the hurt overwhelms and we no longer see the light, we need a God who’s been to the deepest depths to come and lead us out from there. Because we need Him now.

I’m not going to lie through my teeth, telling you acts like this make sense in God’s plan. I’m not going to feed you the empty calories of this being God’s will and we need to be content and joyful through all trials. No, I will mourn with those in Newtown and around the world. I will feel the grief and ask God why? But, I will mourn and question, knowing that I have a capable Savior able to understand because He felt this grief. I have a powerful Savior able to pick up my broken heart, because He cares about the heart more than all. I may not understand, but I want to turn nowhere else right now. In time, hearts will heal. In time, we will begin to understand and it will no longer be senseless. It will not be happy, but we’ll understand how God is sovereign even still. In the meantime, I trust He is healing hearts, just as He only knows how.