The heartbreak of brokenness

I just read an article in the Bismarck Tribune about a family in Platte, SD.  The article tells the tragic story of what appears to be a husband and father murdering his entire family, committing suicide and setting their home ablaze.


They all appear to have been great people.  The kids excelled at sports and academics and the family were active members in a church much like ours.  The church they attended shares a history, common theology and denominational ties with our own church here in Bismarck.  I have met their pastor on occasion.

As you can imagine, the entire small community of Platte is reeling from this news.

What it made me think of is how near we all are to heartache, brokenness and sin.  So often in the church we look out at “those people.”  People who do “bad things.”  We shelter and protect our own from “the world.”  But we easily forget the words of caution spoken to Adam’s firstborn son, “Sin is crouching at your door and its desire is for you.”  The worst danger that threatens me and my family is right inside of me, “crouching at my door.”  It is the sin in my own heart.  I would like to say I would never do anything like this, but if I say this I fail to recognize the power of sin.

Sin is never static.  It does not remain the same.  It is either being killed or it is growing in us.  We may never know what led this man to commit these deeds, but if the story is true we can be certain that he was not killing his sin.  His sin led to the deaths of those he was called to protect.  It led to heartbreak for an entire community.

It’s a heartbreaking story.  But it should at the very least serve as a warning to all of us who sit in church or who who raise moral and high achieving children, that we are always in danger.  The greatest danger facing us is in us.

This may sound hopeless, but it isn’t.  We have one who helps us in our weakness.  Jesus does a few things for us that are helpful in killing sin.  First, he cleans our account with God.  We come before God with our tally sheet and things seem hopeless, but Jesus wipes out our debt and gives us access to his account.  So then it looks pretty good.  But thats not all, and its not enough. The other thing he does is free us from ourselves.  We no longer have to try to be good “for goodness sake.” We can stop striving to prove ourselves.  We can stop trying so hard.

(take a deep breath right now and tell yourself, “Because of Jesus, you can stop trying so hard”)  

Once we are free because of this great news of what Jesus has done, we don’t have to live for ourselves anymore.  We can live for him instead.

When we stop focusing on our sin, our struggles, our guilt or our shame.  We can now live for someone else.  The one who did this for us.  Then you can gradually look behind you and notice that your sin is dying, all because you are free.

Sin is a danger to all of us.  Kill it by focusing your attention on Jesus instead of yourself.  And pray for the community of Platte and all those who knew and loved this family.