Yesterday was a very typical day for us. I went to a Christmas party with my mother-in-law that was given by a dear friend and supporter. We enjoyed a sumptuous meal and some great fellowship with other ladies. Afterwards, I went to get a long-awaited haircut and made small talk with the hairdresser. Prit spent the day with his Dad. They went to one of his dad’s favorite places – the PX – got Prit a new watch, and had lunch together. Later, I was relaxing and chatting with friends on Facebook until a comment, placed by our son, John, on his Facebook page, suddenly reeled me back into the reality of life as it is: joyful and dreadful, with its highs and lows. Like a river current, it is always changing.
John posted on Facebook that there had been a shooting at the Clackamas Mall in Portland, Oregon. As the mind assesses information at a rapid-fire rate, mine did likewise. I immediately thought of our son, Gabe, who lives in the Clackamas area and whose apartment is right across from the mall. Concern set in, then relief as I read the last line: Gabe had been evacuated with hundreds of other people.
I immediately contacted Gabe, who was back home by then. It turns out he had been sitting at Starbucks at the time of the shooting and had heard the gunfire close by. At that point, he jumped up and ran out the exit door along with several other shoppers. Curious, I went to Google to find an outlay of the Clackamas Mall, wondering just how close Gabe had been to the shooter. The gunman was coming through Macy’s, then shot and killed two people in the Food Court. The map indicated that Macy’s empties into Zone C. I kept up my search and found that Starbucks is in Zone C. A chill went down my spine as I realized how close our son had come to being one of the victims yesterday. Two people are dead and a young lady is now fighting for her life in a Portland hospital. The gunman had finally killed himself before harming anyone else.
Today, we’re going to the Olive Garden with Prit’s parents to celebrate Prit’s birthday. It was November 23, but we were in Haiti at the time. We now have two reasons to celebrate. We’re also celebrating the life of our son who will be flying in next Tuesday to spend the holidays with us. Christmas will be even more special this year knowing that he was unharmed. But, we also feel tremendous sorrow for the families of the victims who are now making funeral arrangements and most likely thinking of anything but Christmas. We ask that you would please remember these families in your prayers. Yes, we also ask for your prayers for the gunman’s family as well. The details will come forth with the unfolding of each news story.
The first Christmas held both joy and sorrow. The angels announced, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:14). The Saviour had come, but often wonderful news is mingled with sorrow. Jesus had come to earth. Salvation was now available to mankind. Yet, mothers mourned over the slaughter of their babes in Bethlehem. Like the gunman in the Clackamas mall, Herod, the raging lunatic, was incensed at the thought of another king challenging his rule. In one swoop, he too had done away with innocent lives, leaving others to mourn. This is the irony of life on earth at present and this is the irony of the Scriptures. An innocent man hung on a cross wracked with pain as others looked on. Some were weeping, others jeering. This time he would not escape, but would instead become the sacrificial Lamb for us all.
A year ago, I wrote a blog titled “Mary’s Favor.” Mary was blessed with the privilege of being the mother of our Lord. Yet, she often experienced a profound sorrow of the lowest depths as well. So, what, then, was Mary’s favor? While you’re enjoying your Christmas holiday, please remember others who, for one reason or another, do not share your joy.