Last night a woman from our church was murdered. Her name was Angie, and from the little we know about what happened, she and a friend got into an argument - and the friend stabbed her to death. And it all happened in front of Angie’s three small children.
I will admit that the news has been hard to take in. As a pastor, I’m comforted by the memory of conversations I had with Angie about her relationship with God. Angie had a rough life that was marked by addiction and physical abuse. And she hadn’t recovered from all of that. But she regularly told me that she knew God loved her, even though she wasn’t perfect. And almost every time I saw her, she would share with me something she was praying about.
However, on a personal level, it’s harder to find that comfort. I liked Angie. She was funny, energetic, and always up for helping. She loved the Harvest, and was regularly telling neighbors and friends to come be a part of what God’s doing here. And even though I wasn’t always sure whether or not she was sober, I was sure that she was a friend. So it’s harder to handle the loss personally.
As I’ve started processing what’s happened, God has reminded me that He is Yahweh. And that is the comfort that I need. If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, "Yahweh" is one of the Hebrew names for God - and it means "I am". Whenever we see the word "LORD" in all capital letters in our Bibles, it’s the English translation for the name "Yahweh". The Jewish people considered it to be the most sacred of all their names for God, but it's also a name that describes the personal nature of God.
And it’s the name God uses for Himself in Exodus 3:7, when He says to Moses, "I have seen the oppression of my people. I have heard their cries of distress, and I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them, and lead them into their own land." In this passage God reveals to Moses that He is a God who knows about the suffering of His people, and wants to help.
Today, in the midst of this loss, I’m glad to know that the almighty, all powerful, and holy God - the God who is the Eternal Creator and Lord of All - is also a God who sees my suffering, and is moved to help. So He’s not just this powerful being that sits in the heavens ignoring what’s going on in my little corner of the world. Instead, He hears, He cares, and He wants to personally be involved in what’s going on in my life. And what’s true for me, is true for all of us. God cares, and wants to help each and every one of us.
Of course, the key for us is to not only remember Who our God is, but to take that knowledge and respond to it. We can't simply believe that He is near to us, we must also draw near to Him. We need to open ourselves up to His loving care, and allow the most-powerful, almighty God to truly minister to us like only He can do. So today, as we face the difficult things of life, let's remember that our God is "Yahweh". Let's focus on the fact that He is a personal God who is near, who is powerful, and who wants to help us. And then, let's take time to draw near to Him, and allow Him to lift our burdens and ultimately, restore our joy.