It is important that we people of faith be clear that human tragedy is not the will of God.

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I am glad I was in Africa while my brothers and sisters in the once united Methodist Church were cutting one another to shreds at the recent general conference in St. Louis. I am glad that I only caught glimpses of the terrible things that people representing Jesus Christ were saying about one another in the name of love and unity.

A year may start happily and end wretchedly. A career may start with a blaze of glory and end with an embarrassing thud.

For sure, we are a nation under stress. We are a tension-ridden people who take aspirin for our headaches, tranquilizers for our nerves and sleeping pills to make us sleep. And so much of this “medicine” is being taken to alleviate tension or stress.

Along with you, I was recently appalled to hear again that a gunman had opened fire at a nightclub in Thousand Oaks, Calif., killing 12 and wounding a number of others.

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The point of this National Day of Encouragement is that encouragement matters, and it really does.

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