January 3, 2012

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You. 2 Chronicles 20:12

The death this week of Mount Rainier park ranger Margaret Anderson is sad on so many levels. She was killed in the line of duty, leaving behind a husband (a fellow ranger) and two young children. Her parents are still living; I can only imagine their unique pain. And Mrs. Anderson’s killer himself is now dead from exposure to the park’s harsh weather. According to news reports, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq, was estranged from his wife and child, and is suspected of being behind the wounding of four others.

“Senseless” is how a neighbor of Anderson’s parents described the tragedy. The suspect blew through a checkpoint set up to ensure travelers’ tires where equipped with chains to navigate the snowy roads, and when he came upon a roadblock set up by Ranger Anderson, he opened fire on her.

The story made the front page of my local newspaper, because her father is a pastor of a Lutheran church here in New Jersey, in the town where she graduated high school. In his Sunday sermon, the paper states, delivered mere hours before his daughter’s death, the Rev. Paul Kritsch encouraged his parishioners to meet adversity in this new year with strength and faith. Now he and his wife will have to do that as perhaps they never have before.

Undoubtedly you too have come through situations that have shaken your world. I have. The most recent one was four years ago, when my mother-in-law began her descent into dementia that ultimately led to her death. Joe and I regularly experienced heartache, anger, confusion, frustration, fear and helplessness during the two years of his mother’s illness. Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 2 Chronicles as he faced a huge invasion of his fiercest enemies became mine. I had never before dealt with impending death in such an intimate way, and had no clue how to handle it.

“Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine,” Jehoshaphat said to God, “we will stand before [You] and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us…For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us” (2 Chronicles 20:9, 12). Like this Old Testament king, all I could do was look to the Lord who’d seen me through many other crises. He had the power; I had none.

I pray for the families affected by the tragedy at Mount Rainier. And I pray for all of us as we endure tough times, that we would keep your eyes on the God who answers and says, “Do not fear or be dismayed…for the battle is not yours but Mine” (v. 15).

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