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s & zI’ve been squeezing my daughters tighter this week. My eyes ache from overuse, as my parental gaze has intensified. Recently I relaxed some with street safety, allowing my girls to be near me instead of holding my hands. After last Friday’s horrifying shooting in Newtown, CT, I enforced a step backwards in this area.

My 8 1/2-year-old rolls her eyes at me. “Ugh…Moooom!” she says with undisguised irritation. “I’m fine!”

Suck it up, sister, I think. My spirit is anxious and my heart is afraid for your and your sister’s life. Mama bear is on alert to protect her cubs.

What I say is, “We never know when a vehicle is gonna whip around a corner or something, Honey. Drivers aren’t always watching out for little people like you two.”

She rolls her eyes again. Her face says, “Whatever.”

Keri Wyatt Kent writes in Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus about feeling simultaneously deeply loved and vulnerable when people intercede for her in prayer (123-126). Loved because the people clearly care enough about her to lift up her life and cares to the Lord, and “stand in the gap” when she is feeling distant from God. Vulnerable because she makes the cries of her soul known when people ask how they might pray. It is an odd juxtaposition; and yet, the feelings exist together in mysterious tension.

Vulnerable. Yes, this is how I feel. As I read blogs and articles online, I grasp that many Americans feel similarly. I don’t know if anyone else finds it difficult to discern how deeply God loves us with the reptilian part of the brain in such a high state of alarm.

Defend! Protect! You’re threatened! says the human brain on alert. Almost a week later, most of us are still within that frame of mind. I fear we will be for a while.

Photo credit: Shandi-lee X {pieces I} on Flickr

Photo credit: Shandi-lee X {pieces I} on Flickr

Our fear and worry are understandable — they are primal reactions. The human mind and body are built with innate drives to protect and desires for safety and avoidance of death. The images and continuous media coverage of the Sandy Hill Elementary shooting disturb our equilibrium, at the very least.

Our fear and worry also reveal weakness within our faith lives. I doubt you, God, they say. I’m not sure where you are, what you’re doing, or exactly how you have a handle on this.

And yet, Jesus understands, and prays for us.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. … Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us (Romans 8:1-2, 33-34, NLT; quoted in Deeply Loved, 123).

God does not condemn us for our troubling emotions. God does not condemn us for holding tighter to our children as we react to our own vulnerability. Even within these dark times, and our condemnation of God in our questioning, anger, confusion, and oscillating belief, we are deeply loved by the One who created us.

Some of us may be unable to receive this love right now. Unspeakable tragedy truly tests even the strongest of faith. Even in times like this, God gives us further assurance.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death. (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,* neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 35-39, NLT).

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Deeply Loved Advent blog hop series Week 3 book giveaway

Advent seriesThanks to the generosity of thirteen talented Christian authors, we’re doing a book giveaway each week during the Deeply Loved Advent blog hop series. For information about the weekly book giveaways, and how you can enter, please click here.

This week we’ll draw for four books! Winners will be announced on “Woman, in Progress…” (this site) tomorrow.

Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus by Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper

Letters to My Children: Secrets of Success by Judy Douglass

Culture Rebel: Because the World Has Enough Desperate Housewives by Connie Jakab

Pampering Gifts: Crafting a Ministry of Treating People Well for Less by Lara Krupicka

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