seasoned with salt Updates and uptakes from a missionary-in-training. Sat, 01 Jul 2017 20:49:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 seasoned with salt 32 32 15205153 Be Interruptible & Practice Hospitality Sat, 01 Jul 2017 20:41:16 +0000 Continue Reading]]>

Chris and Omar, one of the students who was on campus some of the summer

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

I’ve taken great comfort from these verses, and all of Romans 12, as we’ve sought to serve the Lord from inside the walls at RGBI this summer. One of the ways we’ve been able to use our gifts is by serving some of the students who have chosen to stay on campus for most of their summer vacation. The married students have apartments and kitchens, but two guys were staying in the dorms. The dining hall is closed and they don’t have cars, so they were really stuck on campus. We enjoyed inviting them over to share big dinners and time in our living room, encouraging one another in the Lord, just like it says in Romans 12:13.

At the end of the semester, we spent a weekend serving at a church in Big Wells, a small town outside of Laredo. The church was between pastors and always in need of preaching pastors on the weekends, so we were asked to go. Chris prepared a message about how the Lord doesn’t work on our schedule, but His own, so we should “be interruptible.” A couple times, we’ve been able to practice this by being available to open the pantry (a food dispensary) on the campus, take a student to the bank or the store, or fill in for a pastor.

We’re so thankful for these opportunities to serve this summer and look forward to how God will interrupt our plans while we are on the road in July. May we be interruptible!

See You Later, Pastor Brad Sun, 04 Jun 2017 04:04:52 +0000 Continue Reading]]> As I fall asleep tonight, I’ll be praying for my friend Lisa. She lost her daddy today. And he was her pastor, so, double whammy. I’ll be praying for Bonnie and Scott and Wendy, his wife and other two children, and their families. I’ll pray for Caius and Ghilly, who lost their papa, their housemate, and their pastor.

If you think of us, pray for our sending church, Eastgate Bible Fellowship. Pray that we would suffer well, that we would be in the grief journey with our dear pastor’s family for the long haul, that we would not grow weary as this is not the only cancer diagnosis our little congregation faces. Pray that we would rejoice, and laugh, and smile. Our friend is free, he is whole. He does not have cancer, arthritis, or Celiac’s Disease anymore. He is no longer tired or weary, or weak. He’s not stubborn about or frustrated by his limitations. He’s not sinful or broken. He’s met face to face the One he preached about. He has no more pain, no more tears. The hope he had on Earth is manifested in Heaven. Wow.

I’m far away, so I’ve been reading all the comments I can about his influence. My favorites are the ones he influenced to ministry. It is really an enormous part of our story that he believed in us and saw us in the ministry in spite of all our many, many shortcomings, which he certainly knew about.

I became a Christian at the same time he became the pastor of our church.

He walked me through a season of anxiety in the most gentle manner, many times at Starbucks late in the evening.

He married us.

He dedicated our children.

He preached one Mother’s Day a sermon that had me blubbering on my (new) boyfriend’s shoulder the worst ugly cry ever, and then later he wisely encouraged me to grieve the loss of my mother even though she is still alive.

He sent me to Mexico on my first mission trip ever, before I even knew the difference between the scripture and the commentary in a study Bible. And he commissioned my family to serve Jesus in Spain.

He counseled us for marriage in 4 weeks time because we had been long distance. Our assessments made him chuckle. He told us, “your differences seem great now. They’re probably why you were attracted to each other. But they’ll cause some problems later if you’re not careful.” And he was right. And when that happened, we saw the licensed marriage counselor he recommended.

He shepherded our church through the very worst things: a young mother’s suicide, one of his best friends losing a son in a tragic accident, a biblical response to the consequences for sin, cancer in the young and old.

He had a vision for our church that helped me find a good place to worship in college.

He battled cancer bravely. He pushed through and preached, and he also was weak and unavailable because he was sick and I learned so much from that.

He always greeted my family so warmly when they came for Easter or special events. He knew their names and made an impression so my grandma who doesn’t walk with the Lord would frequently ask, “how is your minister?”

When I sing “Thank you, Lord” I hear his a capella voice.

He would end (the world’s shortest) business meetings with “all in favor say I’m hungry.”

When Chris preaches about the Pharisees and Saducees, he always says, “they didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they were sad, you see,” and it’s because we heard that from the pulpit over and over.

He was a coach before he became a pastor. That’s why we can go from tech jobs to missions.

I’ll leave you with this story. Pastor sat in on our oral doctrinal exam, which went way too long because Chris and I were fumbling around for the right answers and sort of arriving at them haphazardly. Pastor was really our only friendly face. I mean, they were all friendly, but the others were making decisions about us at the end of the exam. The last question, after the eschatology question we think we got right, was “why is Christ beautiful to you?” and I said, “because he became my sin. He knew no sin, and he became my sin so that I could become his righteousness. He traded places with me and didn’t just save me, but made me righteous. That’s amazing.” Pastor asked, “do you know the reference for that?” and I didn’t, at the time. (Lord knows I do now, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and I also know a song about it). So I just blurted out, “Galatians 2:20? No that’s not it but you do preach on that a lot.” And then I admitted I didn’t know the reference.

Bless it. How did we ever get this job?Maybe in their little meeting afterward he said, “in their defense I do mention Galatians 2:20 a lot.”

I will miss him so much. I am so sad he will not get a prayer letter from us from Spain. I am sad for his family. I am sad he was forced to retire and didn’t get to choose it and spend his days golfing and playing with his grandkids. I am mad that this colon cancer has now taken three precious men from me: my grandpa, my step grandpa 10 years later, and now my pastor.

But I am rejoicing because the battle is finally over, and Jesus wins. Again. Like always. My pastor knew that, and it fueled his days.

Language School Update Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:16:09 +0000 Continue Reading]]> Wondering how we’re doing in language school? Well, I (Rose) studied Spanish in school for eight years, up to approximately level 6. I spent 6 weeks in Argentina, speaking mainly Spanish, and spoke in Spanish on three different mission trips. I still learn something new every day.

Chris is starting from almost nothing, so he learns a lot every day! More than he can keep in his brain. We have to memorize dialogues that are chock full of new vocabulary and, frankly, it feels like we’re memorizing sounds in “chicken.”

Here’s a sample of our experience.

Hay la familia Duryee.

Son misioneros.

Están en México (en esta foto).

Van a servir a Dios en España.

Here are the Duryees

They are missionaries.

They are in Mexico (in this photo)

They are going to serve God in Spain.

Spanish is easy to learn, they said. You already know so much from high school, they said. So many words are the same, they said.

Bendiciones Wed, 08 Mar 2017 02:55:13 +0000 Continue Reading]]> ♥ hymns. All the Way My Savior Leads Me and I Asked the Lord, specifically

♥ the fireflies we saw tonight on an impromptu family walk

♥ Daniel 19:10 “you who are greatly loved”

♥ tamale tuesday

♥ done potty training

♥ date night for foodies

♥ heat

♥ answered prayers for our kids to feel loved and secure

Holiday and Road Trip Recap Sun, 08 Jan 2017 03:30:49 +0000 Continue Reading]]> Late in November, the burden of home ownership made itself obvious and we began to dabble with the idea of selling our condo instead of renting it out. There was just one potential renter coming to look at the place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and as I looked at the patched walls, piles of boxes, and dirty carpet, I just couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to live in our place if they saw it as it was. We didn’t have as much interest in our place as we thought we would, and we were beginning to think about all the ways we’d have to be helpful to new renters and what a burden that would be. When our realtor advised it enthusiastically, promising a good selling price, the wheels were set in motion.

We continued moving our special things to our gifted storage unit, selling all the things we won’t be using in Texas or Spain, and packing our belongings for the move south. In addition, we painted the whole living space, kitchen, inside the laundry closet and pantry, and one bedroom. On December 18, we delivered a couch we’d been borrowing for 10 years back to the friends who gave it to us originally. That was not always the plan, but when I started listing our furniture for sale, I realized the couch was not truly mine to sell! Fun serendipity to see them and say goodbye that day. Then dear friends helped us finish packing and we taped out a trailer sized box in a Sunday school room at our church. At first, it did not look like we’d be able to fit all our things into the trailer, but it worked and we even had room for our vacuum! Later that day we moved ourselves, our suitcases, and our piles of Christmas presents into my grandparents’ house. We ran errands like it was our job that week – trips to Value Village, waiting for the carpet to be cleaned, and signing papers with our realtor. After that we were able to make some memories with the kids, who had not yet had an ounce of Christmas spirit infused into their days. We decorated a tree, built gingerbread houses, made and decorated Christmas cookies, went ice skating, enjoyed Snowflake Lane, attended Siri and Jon’s annual Porridge Party and did a little Christmas shopping and wrapping. On Christmas Eve we celebrated with my grandparents and cousins. The kids each got a Kindle Fire, gifts we were anticipating ahead of our long car trip. My grandparents gave us hotel stays along the way – such a generous blessing! On Christmas Day we went to church and enjoyed the whole day with Chris’s parents and family. Highlights from that day were the extended gift opening – I love that our traditions keep us around the tree for hours after most people are heading to the movie theater or even shopping – and watching Chris, Jon and Ryan read For Boys Only and The Dangerous Book for Boys together. We got home too late for the Call the Midwives Christmas Special, my only regret.

Our home was listed on December 26. It would be listed for 10 days, and then the day we arrived in Edinburg we would review offers and accept one. We organized, packed, visited friends, and dealt with our first stumble: Chris had some very bad stomach pains and other symptoms which led us to take a trip to Urgent Care. They ruled out everything major and encouraged him to visit a gastroenterologist in Texas if the symptoms persisted. It turns out it was probably related to accidentally consuming gluten earlier in the week, and he’s fine now, but the evening was a reminder that the enemy does not want this process to be easy.

Chris saw Star Wars: Rogue 1 with his brother, the kids and I had last playdates with besties, and then, suddenly, our last two weeks at “home” were done. We picked up and packed the trailer on Wednesday, had a last sleep, and set off for Oregon on Thursday morning. There were tears.

It was great to see my dad one last time before next year and spend the evening catching up with my grandma. She gave us another generous Christmas gift – a plugin cooler for the car. While we were sleeping, someone smashed in our rear quarter window and the front passenger window. They took our roadside emergency kit from the back. From the front they got a huge bag of food and everything in the glovebox. All in all, it wasn’t much, except Chris’s expensive sunglassess. But it really messed with our peace and trust of others on the trip. At first we thought this might delay our trip, as all the glass places we called didn’t have our windows and wouldn’t be open until Tuesday. My grandma is better than a girl scout, though, and we located one window at one shop and the other at a junkyard. Chris and Jan drove all over town to pick those up and deliver them and then we took the car to be cleaned and fixed. While it was at the shop, we went to Whole Foods to replenish the hippy food that was stolen and buy some food for dinner while the kids played with Grandma. After dinner, Chris picked up the car, we hitched up again, and started packing for our nighttime drive to Redding. At the end of the day I was grateful to spend more time with my grandma. It was stressful and we felt very violated, but it could have been a lot worse. There were pry-marks on our trailer and we think the thief was frustrated and that’s why he smashed two windows. Thankfully we had brought in all our electronics, suitcases, and paperwork.

The drive to Redding was almost uneventful – the kids fell asleep quickly and we drove in quiet. But when we reached the Siskiyous, there was so much fog Chris was looking for each lane marker as it came. At one point we couldn’t see a thing for about 10 seconds. It cleared at the summit and we finally arrived in Redding around midnight. The next day we got back on schedule and drove to Bakersfield, arriving in the pouring down rain. We ate ribs for our New Year’s Eve meal and we were all asleep by 9 pm. Bakersfield to Phoenix, over the Grapevine, was beautiful and sunny. I was praising God for all the good work my chiropractor did on my ears over the last year because this trip didn’t bother me at all! In Phoenix God answered more prayers. Originally we were told our hotel, the WorldMark in Phoenix, could not accommodate trailers, but they made it work and we enjoyed a night with separate bedrooms from the kids. From Phoenix we drove to El Paso, and then from El Paso we drove to Fort Stockton, Texas. We added that stop so that we’d be arriving in San Antonio in daylight. The whole trip, a cold front was following us. It was like we were pulling it along with our trailer. I kept saying, “I thought it was hot in Texas!”

Fort Stockton to San Antonio was a long and boring drive, but we were so pleased to discover our next WorldMark was in the heart of Texas Hill Country. The drive was gorgeous, the sun was shining, and our apartment was lovely. In spite of the cold temperatures, we went swimming with the kids and the pool was perfectly heated. After swimming we warmed up and watched some TV while waiting for our surprise – friends from Washington! Our friends from our small group in Sammamish had moved to San Antonion this summer, so they met us at our resort and we cooked dinner together and caught up. They were so generous and brought us snacks and an HEB gift card for our first grocery trip. They also gave us lots of tips about becoming Texans. Our kids were worn out and slept soundly on the sofa bed all night. We were sad to leave that gorgeous resort, though.

We finally arrived at RGBI and saw our apartment on Thursday afternoon. We are so happy to be here.

All along the trip, our realtor was keeping us posted about how our home was showing. There was a lot of interest, so we were interested to see how it would go.  One interested party did not want to wait until the offer deadline to find out whether they would win. They made an over-full-price offer that we wanted to accept on the spot. Instead, we put them at first place, got the paperwork going, and waited to see what would happen on deadline day. There were 17 showings, lots of interest and a bunch of requests to extend the offer deadline, but only one perfect offer. We were thrilled to be able to accept the offer from this family who was so excited about moving to Klahanie. One of our first tasks upon our arrival was to sign the offer acceptance form and send them back. Done! I told our realtor, “we have all the praise hands over this. I feel like God orchestrated this so perfectly for them and for us. Like we’re the only ones in the world right now.”

Ebenezers Shaped like Cars Thu, 24 Nov 2016 22:10:54 +0000 Continue Reading]]> I like to imagine little car-shaped Ebenezers popping up all over Issaquah as I tell this story of how God provided for our family and some friends of ours over the last few months.

The Hebrew word for Ebenezer (’Eben hà-ezer) means “stone of help.” When we sing the lines of the second verse “Here I raise my Ebenezer / Hither by Thy help I come, we ‘re acknowledging the bountiful blessings and help from God, just like the prophet Samuel did when God saved the Israelites from attack. Whenever God helps me – a box of groceries, a friend who comes a couple times to help me pack, someone to teach my children God’s truths, a reminder of God’s promises, a lawsuit check (thanks, Facebook, for $15!), a much-needed find on Buy Nothing – I think to myself, I should raise an Ebenezer here to remember. For me this means writing down lists of things I’m thankful for. It’s all help, all provision. Every good and perfect thing comes from the Father. Sometimes they have a deep impact, though. That’s what this post is about today.

We just gave back a car to some partners of ours who let us borrow it for over a year.

I want to raise an Ebenezer or two over the help God has given us, especially in terms of vehicles. We had the car Chris bought in 2000 and the very small car I bought in 2005 when Austin was born in 2013. My grandparents gave us a bigger sedan and took my little car to my mom, who usually drives old cars with lots of problems. We have been so blessed by that provision! We never take for granted what a nice gift that was.

When Chris quit his job in 2014 to raise support full time, we thought the support would come in quickly and we’d be on our way. God used that time off to provide in a different way: ministry experience. We wouldn’t do it any differently looking back, but it was hard at the time. We ran out of money, so we sold Chris’s car and Chris went back to work. Partners and friends we met at Issaquah Coffee Company (not the only ones!) offered to help while we were a one car family, by lending us their truck. So Chris has driven our friends’ truck for almost two years. Besides the obvious blessing of having an extra car, this was a great learning experience for us about how God provides for missionaries. He peeled back a layer of self-reliance that we won’t need on the field.

Recently, we were able to purchase the perfect car for our trip to language school and back. We used, so it was stress free – moving has made enough stress of its own. Since it is a ministry vehicle, we will be able to put the money we get for it back into our Outfit & Passage just before we leave.

When I gave the keys to our truck back to our friends, I got a little emotional. God has provided above and beyond what we asked for – friends, ministry partners, help in time of need. This year, our friends had a similar story of provision:

Our 1996 Toyota Camry literally had a meltdown in the parking lot of the shop we take it to. They did the valve cover gasket job and parked it. An hour later, brown and black smoke was billowing out from the engine compartment. Battery and all electrical system dead, fried. Options were to claim insurance and get about $1,500 for the loss, or take the shop owner’s offer of $1,500 without claiming. Literally the next morning, a very longtime customer of this shop brings in his 1998 Toyota Camry wanting to give it away or sell it. How much does he want for it? $1,500. The shop owner shares my car’s story with the car owner and we all decide we’d be crazy to deny this orchestration of events. On Tuesday I drove the 98 Camry home from the shop where my totaled 96 Camry sat, without having paid a cent for any of it.

Our friends have a second car: the truck we were using. But they didn’t even have to call us. God had it in control. Like our friend put it, “God uses things like this to remind us that he is the one in control, even when we think we are, and that he pours out his love on us even when we don’t deserve it.”

These same friends are just beginning to save for their next car, and they would love a small SUV just like the one we bought for language school. We know that God will provide the perfect car for them in His own time, but we really do hope it’s ours!

Thank You, Liberty Baptist Church! Wed, 23 Nov 2016 23:10:08 +0000 Continue Reading]]> I’m just going to accept that I post blogs, write emails, and complete timely tasks about three months behind an ideal and sensible schedule. The problem with this one is that I wanted to include photos. I give up, for the sake of posting more frequently. I do post photos on Facebook quite regularly. 


We had such a wonderful time on our trip to Indiana to attend a missions conference at Liberty Baptist in Sweetser in September.

God ordained this trip in so many ways. In spite of travel expenses, we still came out ahead financially, thanks to airline miles and the very generous love offering. That’s not what it’s all about, and the encouragement and relationships we gain at missions conferences is invaluable, but it was a way that God showed us that we did the right thing by packing our family across the country for the conference.

We stayed with the most amazing, generous, funny and inspiring family. We feel we have made lifetime friends and our kids especially were so blessed by the care and attention they received. Our accommodations were in their basement, more than comfortable and totally dark, so we got great sleep all week from our tired, jet-lagged kids. What a gift!

We shared the spotlight with missionaries to Peru, Jamaica, Togo, Norway, and ABWE representatives who serve teams all over Europe and the Middle East. The reps were familiar faces to us from all our trips to ABWE for trainings, so that was another gift. We won’t see home office folks until next summer at Missionary Enrichment.

The Lord will direct this church about their support, but we are hopeful that He leads them to partner with us. We experienced passion for seeing the Gospel spread around the world – not just by “other missionaries” but by anyone whom God might call to the field at that moment – unlike anything we’ve experienced in the Pacific Northwest. In spite of our diverse culture, passion for the nations is not as fervent here. Don’t misunderstand – churches love and honor Jesus here, and they care about missionaries. But they are often more aware of short-term opportunities, social justice, and local issues than they are of the great need for the Good News around the world. It was bolstering to be around people committed to seeing the nations reached.

It is our pleasure to pray for our partners and partnering churches regularly, especially around holidays where outreach and service events might be happening. So we pray for a blessed Thanksgiving for Liberty Baptist Church in Sweetser, Indiana.

Announcing… Our Farewell Tour Fri, 02 Sep 2016 23:44:42 +0000 Continue Reading]]> This is as close to musician fame as we’ll ever get, so we’re dubbing the next few ministry trips “the first dates on our Farewell Tour.”

After Labor Day, we will have wrapped up leading our Chinese friends through The Story of Hope. We hope to continue with The Way to Joy with a few of them, but it is the first in a list of at-home ministries we have to wrap up before heading to language school.

After the long weekend we plan to start homeschool Kindergarten and visit one of our local supporting churches. Then we head to Indiana to participate in a missions conference at Liberty Baptist Church. In addition to kindergarten and church visits, I am going to do Bible Study Fellowship’s John study through December, and we will be packing for our moves and dealing with a lot of logistics. In October we visit two more local supporting churches. We also hope to do some ministry visits in those months. If you would like to introduce us to your small group or someone who might be interested in learning more about missions in Spain, please contact us!

We are looking forward to sharing what God is doing in Spain with so many new people over the next months, and we are praying and trusting God for a few things through that.

  1. We pray that God will supply the last $600 in needed support.
  2. We pray that God would teach our children that He will be there for them when they are missing activities and loved ones at home. They are used to seeing the other Duryees at church on Sundays. We will miss out on homecoming Sunday and a farewell luncheon for a special family as well.
  3. We pray that God would use us to call others to the mission field. Our stories are not typical Bible college to seminary to mission field, and we pray that God would use the unique path He’s given us to call other people to do His work around the world. If we can do it, anyone can.
Remembering Our Commissioning Service Thu, 11 Aug 2016 04:26:33 +0000 Continue Reading]]> Nearly two months ago… I am so behind. This is a missionary’s blog and many of you come here to find out how to pray for us, to catch up on our ministry, and to get a peek on our lives. Well, life is overwhelming. Between parenting, swim lessons, homeschool planning, sorting and selling our home items, ministry activities we just want to keep doing, and the long list of tasks related to prefield… doing this blog the way I want just falls off the priority list.

But something is better than nothing. So, the photos are not all here, but the words are and they matter. We had to blog this because we never want to forget it!

On June 18, 2016, we gathered with our church family, many friends, family members and financial partners to officially commission our family to the mission field. We chose to have our commissioning this day because our teammates and coworkers, Rich and Cindy, were in town and scheduled to speak at Eastgate the next morning. We turned the whole weekend in a focus on Spain! Our prefield director, Brad Winkler, was also able to come to Bellevue to participate. Brad has been such an encouragement to us in this long journey – never judgmental, critical or disappointed, but always encouraging and pointing us to God and what He can do.

Our coworkers, Rich ad Cindy, with us on Sunday after church.

We have video of the service but I have some editing to do, so here is a written summary. I’ll update this post with video when it is finally done.

After gathering in the foyer by our display board and having guests “sign” the fingerprint tree, we sang, worshiped, prayed and were encouraged by our speakers.

A photo posted by Rosalie (@mrsduryee) on

Rather than record the names of all the people who came to our service, we created this fingerprint tree as an Ebenezer to represent the day. The truth is, there were a lot of people not in attendance whom we know to give, pray and follow our mission work closely. It would be sad not to have their names in the guestbook meant to represent the day were were “sent.” Furthermore, it was just a day. Our real commissioning came the day we each surrendered our lives to Jesus, and our sending is done – we are missionaries, though we have yet to leave for the field. The fingerprint tree reminds us that many, many people are behind us; we are not sent alone and we do not labor alone. In the years to come, when we doubt our calling, I know this Ebenezer will encourage us.

Our friends Robin and Joy Porter and both their boys led us in worshiping with Mighty to Save by Hillsong, Our God Reigns (How Lovely On the Mountains) (an oldie but SUCH a goody), and Follow You by Leeland.

Then Chris and I shared our testimonies and some of the ways God has changed us over the last six years. He is so faithful!

Our Pastor, Brad Kolbo, gave a charge to the church, and Brad Winkler gave the charge to us, the missionaries. My notes are disjointed from caring for children, but the main message was “Three Cs” that we can remember when we face difficulty: our commission, our calling, and our comfort.

We decorated Clark Hall for a reception but I forgot to take pictures of the beautiful centerpieces complete with Spanish fans. Here’s the festive vases being reused.

A photo posted by Rosalie (@mrsduryee) on

We’re so thankful. God used our commissioning service to bring new partners, caused committed partners to begin their support, and honored God by rejoicing in the work He has done and is doing in Spain.

Please continue to pray for our support raising, language school plans, and transition to the mission field.

A photo posted by Rosalie (@mrsduryee) on

Last Night I Dreamed About Orlando Tue, 14 Jun 2016 23:12:35 +0000 Continue Reading]]> Last night Chris and I prayed before falling asleep, like we always do. We held hands and thanked God for our many blessings, prayed for our children and our support raising and our marriage. And then we prayed for Orlando. Chris’s voice broke a little when he thought of the parents. Parents whose babies won’t be coming home. Parents who had horrifying text conversations just moments before a monster took their baby’s life. And this is the picture that haunted my dreams last night: silent phones, still bodies, distressed parents.

We are heartbroken for this tremendous loss of lives. So many young lives; not that value decreases with age but that potential increases! I think of all the amazing things that have happened to me since I was 25 and I mourn the lost future of all these precious humans.

Which brings us to the age old question. What was God’s role is this tragedy? He is sovereign. He literally holds the world in His hands and not one hair on your head is lost without God knowing about it, ordaining its fall. I have studied the answer to this question, heard messages on it and read the many Bible verses that demonstrate that God’s purposes prevail over the purposes of man. I never know how to answer it exactly. It is not comforting to hear that He allowed it, willed it, caused it, or will use it. It’s too horrible! It’s not comforting to hear that He didn’t have a part in it but it is all because of the decisions of that horrible man, because then what is the point? If man is that powerful, then God must be weak. Indeed, this is a prevailing belief today.

This is my only comfort: Jesus, who redeems ALL things, will redeem this tragedy. I know that God was not surprised, though He is brokenhearted. God was not detached, though He does not control us like marionettes. We cannot yet see how, and perhaps we may never see this side of eternity, but this tragedy is part of the bigger picture, the bigger plan for all of humanity, and it fits perfectly into the puzzle, which God sees in completion.

God’s plan for every human is that we dwell with Him forever in eternity. This is the single best thing that will ever happen – no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering. Just perfect fellowship together with God, the creator and author of everything beautiful and good in the world. It comes at the price though. To ensure this possibility, God endured the very same tragedy that those brokenhearted parents in Orlando suffer now: His only son, Jesus, was slaughtered. God sent His son to be slaughtered.

Why did He do it? Because the horrific death of His son paid a ransom placed on mankind. He allowed His son to die in order to purchase us because He loves us. In order to purchase you. Because He loves you.

You see, the enemy of our souls tricks us into believing that God has withheld something good, and we chase after that something until we die.

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. (James 4:1-3)

Lest you think only Sunday’s killer is represented in this passage, remember that Jesus said that if you hate someone, you’ll be judged like a murderer, and John said it too, a little more pointedly.

No one loves perfectly, and the imperfections void our love when we face God. That’s what sin is. It’s a black mark on our hearts, which are designed in love, for love. Marred. Broken. Imperfections void our love in every relationship, really. It’s just that we (can – we don’t always) forgive and have grace and treat others the way we want to be treated – all things Jesus taught us.  He was aiding our survival in this broken world, and He was pointing to eternity, which will be full of perfect love!

Instead of casting aside our broken hearts and the messed up world that rules our hearts, God made a way for His perfect love to rule our hearts once again. He sent His son Jesus to earth, humbly, to grow up in this broken world, and Jesus grew up in it but was not blemished by it. He was perfect in every way – always loving, always gracious, always righteous, and always hanging out with the worst of the broken ones at that – the adulterers, the liars, the drunkards, the sexually immoral. He loved all those people. Indeed, he said they would be first in line to Heaven. He didn’t say it to condone their sins, indeed they turned from their sinful lifestyles time after time when they met Jesus, He said it because they would run to Him with abandon. When you have nothing to lose but your brokenness, it’s easy to come to Jesus. It’s when you’re holding on to something else – your past, your money, your rebel lifestyle, your pain, your reputation, your power – that it becomes hard. It’s like Jesus was saying, “you’re broken. If you know you’re broken, come with me. I will take care of it.”

It’s the knowing that is hard.

Tragedy reminds us.