I sat across from the woman who’s been making my nails presentable for a couple of years now. She smoothed the jagged edges while we discussed the day’s horrific events. Another client sat next to us, giving us information as it unfolded on the internet in the palm of her hand.

His mother was dead, too.  They can’t find his girlfriend.  He was 24. No 20.

My nail miracle-worker began to tell me about a client she had seen not that long ago.  He sat across from her and told her that he saw no purpose for living. Within two days he got sick and died.  So many people living without purpose, she said.  I nodded. 

Jesus gives us purpose, I told her.

Twenty-four people are dead, no twenty-six.

And like the rest of the country, we began to ask why.

And inevitably after the whys come the finger-pointing.  We want to blame something, someone…  We want to list the whys and fix it so it’ll never happen again.

I know.  I’ve asked why about a hundred painful things in my own life.  I want to fix it so it’ll never hurt me again.

The best I’ve been able to come up with so far is sometimes there are just no answers. Not in this life anyway.  There are no whys to grasp and wrap in a neat, little, labeled package, keeping them forever locked away so they never hurt anyone again.

No answers as to why a young man would want to cause so much pain. Nothing concise as to why other young men before him took the same path.

No clear-cut answers to why any of us hurt another, whether it’s with a gun, a knife, or cutting words.

Except that we live in a world diseased with sin. Including our own.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23

And the only cure is the blood of Christ.

Unless we turn to God, we have no purpose, and we act and react in our natural, sinful state. We bully, we become angry, we refuse to forgive, we reject, we neglect, we belittle, we lie, we cheat, we steal. 

Little by little, day by day, our sins affect us and the people around us. The darkness of sin seeps into our hearts and twists our minds so that good is bad and bad is good. 

And through the world the enemy of God whispers in our ear that there is an escape to the pain of our sin.  So we pick one up–a bottle, a baggie, sex—any sex outside the God-given bounds of marriage—pornography, depression, violence. 

But we will inevitably discover that our intended escape is really a dead end that only added to the pain we were trying to forget. 

Unless we turn to God, we will attempt to be our own god and lord it over others weaker or unable or unwilling to fight back: a spouse, a friend, an employee, anyone on the other side of our computer screen, the elderly, children.

Unless we turn to God and invite Him to overwhelm us with His grace and love and forgiveness, a lifetime (no matter how short) of our own sins and the sins of others heaped upon us will overwhelm us.

Add into the mix a mental illness and a society that continues to attach stigma to it which makes it even more difficult to admit and seek help, and the mind can be even less capable of handling the stresses of this world. 

And in a world that glorifies violence as the answer, some will pick up a gun. Or a knife. Or a bomb.

It’s as simple, and complicated, as that.

It’s easy to sit in self-righteous judgment of someone who’s ended a life.  But God looks at the heart. Our hearts.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28

All sin destroys.

Each choice to sin, without repentance, is a step away from God. Sometimes we’ve taken so many steps we lose sight of Him. The good news is that it’s always only one step back.

At any time in this process, God invites us to turn to Him and ask for forgiveness.  He is always waiting with open arms.  And when we do, He smoothes our jagged edges.  He pours out His love. He works miracles in our lives.  He gives us hope and brings us peace.

Whatever the question is, Jesus is, was and always will be the answer.

We live in difficult times and we need Jesus every minute of every day.  We need to stay close by His side through prayer and the study of His Word.  We need the Holy Spirit to continually flow through us so we can be a light to the dark world and show God’s love no matter what.

It’s time we stop conforming to the world and let Jesus live through us.  It’s time to stop playing around with our faith, put away sin and start living to the glory of God. The world needs us to show them Christ, right now. 

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”  Philippians 2:1-11

Grace and peace to you,