Yes, I am a Christian.

But would I really be able to say that in the face of fear, with a gun pointed at me?

Yes, of course I want to say yes. But would I really be able to do it? Or would fear paralyze me? Would terror take my voice? Is my faith really strong enough to say that yes, I believe, and live that out, even in the very last moment of my life. Would I be strong enough to choose to be a martyr? Would I be able to speak it, especially after watching those before me murdered for their “yes”?

This violence happens far too often, here in our country, and across the world. Evil reaches its hand out and snuffs out a life, or many lives, all for it’s own twisted delight.

Evil finds us in every corner, in every place. The darkness of the world seeps in and soils our lives, and right and wrong become murky and twisted.

We mourn with those who have lost, those whose loved ones were brutally murdered. Our tears fall, and our prayers are raised.

We hold our children a little tighter as we send them off to the bus stop, off to their school. Fear creeps into our hearts, and our faith is tested.

I’m reading the articles, watching the news footage, all with tears in my eyes. The senselessness, the madness, of such an act of violence makes me weep for those who were lost, for those who have lost loved ones. My heart aches with grief.

As more information comes out, it is sobering to hear that the gunman asked his victims if they were a Christian. If they said yes, they were killed, a bullet to the head. If they said no, or did not respond, they were still injured, but not murdered.

Dear, sweet Jesus. Why?

Every time something like this happens, I have to ask why. I wrestle with God, and will admit that many times I become angry with Him, why He did not intervene, change the trajectory of the gunman’s life, why He didn’t protect the innocents. I question, I rage, I weep. And God tells me it is okay. I can challenge Him, I can question Him. Because in all of my questions, I don’t question that He is God. And that He is ultimately the one in control. And that He sees and knows far more than I ever will, than I ever can fathom. And that is what ultimately brings me comfort in the midst of the grief and tears.

My soul is challenged by this shooting. The fact that Christians were targeted, martyred because of their bravery in saying yes…

I am challenged because I do often wonder how I would react to such a situation. It is easy for me to sit here at a keyboard and claim, #YesIamaChristian. It is easy within the safety of my home to proclaim that “Yes! Of course, I would say yes!”

But would I really? I like to think that I would be strong enough to make that decision for myself, that I would grasp martyrdom with both hands, and let my faith buoy me in any circumstance. But the “what-ifs?” plague me. What if my children, my beautiful family, were right there? What if they too would be killed? If I could sacrifice myself to save them, then yes, a million times yes, but what if that wasn’t assured? Would I want them to see, to experience, the pain, the torture and have to live with those memories burned into their minds?

The questions are far more numerous than any answers I have. And I honestly hope that I will never be faced with such a situation, such a test, and I pray that the rest of my family will never either. But I also pray that we are living our life as an example to our children that yes, we are Christians, and yes, we will face the trials of the world, the persecution, the hardships that may come our way and that yes, we will lean not on our own understanding. We rely fully on a faith in Christ. We live in the knowledge that this is not our home. Our souls will carry on past this time, our faith, our hope and our security is not found here, in this world.  I pray that we show a strength, not of our own, but in the One in whom we rely, and my deepest prayer is that each one of my children will also learn to lean in to His strength, often and always.

As we mourn those souls who lost their lives in Oregon, let it stir us to a deeper faith.  When evil raises it’s hand to crush, let us retaliate with prayer, putting our faith in the One who triumphs over death. When we weep, let the God who knit us together comfort us and wipe away our tears.  When we question, let us trust not in ourselves, but in the God who put the cosmos in motion.

And it is hard, sometimes seemingly impossible, to do such things. But as found in Mark 10:27

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Let it be so.