Our scripture this week is Matthew 2:13-23.
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
When Christ came into the world, most of those who received the message rejoiced and gave thanks to God. However, there were those who were frightened and angry, afraid of losing their power and position. King Herod was one of these, furious at the thought of a new king being born literally in his backyard, and made even more angry by the appearance of important people from far away coming to worship the child.
King Herod reacted as many people do when frustrated. He lashed out at others, trying desperately to undo what God had done. In his rage, many innocent children were murdered. Some ask “why did God let this happen?” The answer is hard – God made people with free will, able to choose for themselves as part of their created nature, and God would not interfere. Herod chose to commit evil, not looking for a reason, not asking God for help, but sending his soldiers out in a desperate bid to destroy the King he feared would replace him.
God had warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and the baby Jesus, but no warning went out to the families of Bethlehem. Why were they sacrificed? Lysa TerKeurst writes in the NIV Devotional Bible “It takes prayer, and a decision to stop asking for answers and start asking for perspective”. When we are hurt and confused we need to take it to God in prayer, understanding that He doesn’t send evil but people commit evil acts because they don’t have a connection to Him.
Loving Lord, we don’t understand when terrible things happen in our world and innocent people are hurt. Help us to see that people cause evil and that even in the aftermath of tragedy, You are with us in our grief. Amen.