Reflections on Connecticut Tragedy

7:21 PMHeather

I would say I'm speechless but that's not true.  I find that I have much I wish to say, want to say, about today's tragic events.  I would say there are no words, but that's not quite true.  Many thoughts are running through my mind, anxious to run right out of my mouth.

But, there are no words that make sense of the senseless.  There are no words to console the deepest of life's wounds when the precious innocents are ripped from our world.  For no reason.  So unexpectedly.  At a place where they should feel safe.  On a bright sunny day in a quiet little town where no one could imagine the evil that would spiral out of control.  

There are no words to completely answer that deepest crisis of faith that asks how could this happen?  I am sure that countless people are asking how a good God could allow this.  Where was God in all this?  Where were the warning signs?  Who knew the killer and what could have been done to prevent this?

It is a deep crisis of faith as a nation looks to today's events while they unfold and they wrestle with God about the whys and hows of it all.  Where were you, God?  Where were you when those little ones witnessed what no eye should see?  Where were you when those little hearts stopped beating?  Where were you as those desperate, loving teachers tried everything in their power to keep the children calm and safe as all hell broke loose around them?  Where were you when that mother kissed her child good-bye for a good day of school, not knowing that she'd never again exchange a hug with that treasure of hers?

I don't know.  I won't even pretend to know the answers.  Or pretend that somehow, even if I could give all the answers, it would do a lick of good to erase the deepest pains of loss so many families are facing today.  Because it won't.  Words do little to ease the suffering of grief.  The hurting families need people to surround them and walk the road with them, willing to be silent and let them cry and sob and scream if necessary.  The heartbroken need those who know them to be willing to walk or crawl through the mud of sadness and sorrow with them and never leave them.  

Let me tell you something else the heartbroken need.  They don't need the world to send them good thoughts or best wishes.  No.  What they need is for those of faith to fall to their knees or lie prostrate, face on the ground, pleading and begging and pouring ourselves out in prayer and petition on their behalf.  

They don't need a half-hearted prayer now and then that says, "Oh, and God bless all those who lost someone in Connecticut."  Nope.  They need the people of God to storm--and I mean STORM--the Throne Room of heaven on their behalf, interceding greatly for the strength and grace and mercy for just one more minute, one more hour, one more day.  

They need us to lift them up and carry them through with fervent prayers.  Very fervent prayers.  Prayers that fear would not grip our hearts.  Prayers that stand on the promise that God does not give a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).  Prayers that ask God to give those who are hurting eyes to see how He is intersecting their pain to comfort them, through the kindness of a stranger or a hug from a friend.  To see that He has a heart for the suffering and he never leaves or forsakes us.  Prayers that ask that evil would not spread.  Prayers that ask that the Enemy not steal the joy and peace and hope that our children and our families and our nations  and our world need.  Prayers that ask that people would be drawn to him in this situation.  Prayers for wisdom for decision makers and investigators.  Prayers for peace for the law enforcement who are working the scene as we speak.  Prayers for healing from the trauma of the unthinkable that an entire town is facing.  Not half-hearted prayers.  Not a good thought or a warm wish.  But heart-felt prayers of believers who plead EARNESTLY with their Father on the behalf of Newtown, Connecticut.   And, prayers that don't end in a few days, but will be last for the months to come.

Let me tell you what else we don't need.  We don't need to cheapen the loss of any life in any tragedy in any shooting ever by ranking these tragedies.  This makes me insanely angry today.  We don't need reporters telling us that this is "worse than Columbine."  I somehow think that there is a group of parents in Colorado who had to bury their children that would disagree with that sentiment.  Nothing is worse or not as worse in these scenarios.  It's all worse.  It's all bad.  If one died, it's awful.  The age or number of those who were killed are not criteria to rank against the deaths in some other shooting.

We also don't need to replay these images again and again and again for ourselves.  And our children do not need to see them either.  I'm very pleased that there seems to be a buzz on Facebook about limiting our own viewing of the coverage, as well as the viewing of our teenagers and children.  Sure, we need to be informed.  Sure, we are curious and sad and feel connected to this tragedy because it could have happened anywhere.  But, we don't need to grow callous to the suffering by overexposure.  And, we don't need to fill our minds with this.  So, limit it.  For your own good. 

We also don't need to live in fear.  It's a tool of the enemy.  Big time.  We don't need to fear sending our children to school.  Or going to a mall.  Or a movie.  We need to be aware and educated and vigilant to signs of danger.  But, we don't need to be crippled by this and pass that handicap on to our children.  We need to fall on our faith and trust that God is still God, no matter what.

As to where God was today, at about 9:30 am EST?  That is a question we each have to answer in our own crisis of faith.  I believe God was still on his Throne.  I believe in a good God who gave us a free will.  A free will to choose him--or not.  Which means a free will to choose evil or choose good.  In a fallen world, where sin exists.  We have a solution because we have Savior.  But, his death and resurrection did not eliminate our free will.  The shooter made choices.  Horrible choices.  As I told my boys, that young man lived in a place mentally we can't fathom.  A place where something snapped and all sense of hope and reason were lost...a place where he could be driven to such a heinous crime.   

So, we must each face our crisis of faith head-on, in light of this horrendous tragedy in Connecticut today.  You either choose to believe God is who he said he is, even when all circumstances might appear otherwise.  Or, you don't.  

Here's where I personally choose to believe God was today.  God was with the teachers who huddled up their children and did their jobs and got them to safety.  The hands that locked the classroom doors and held the children close to them--those were the hands of God.   God was with the law enforcement officers who charged the school, unsure of what they would face.  Putting their life on the line in order to do their jobs and protect as they served.  That's where I see God.  God was in the compassionate and brave governor who stood side by side with the heartbroken parents when they received the devastating news.  That's where God was--in that room with those who stood with the grief stricken.  God was with the nurses and doctors and paramedics who worked furiously to save lives.  That's where I saw God.  

You know where else I saw God?  In photo after photo of the coverage I allowed myself to watch today.  As one mother holds tightly to another.  As parents clutched their fearful children.  As a little boy walked, wrapped in a policeman's coat that hung to the ground.  The little boy walked hand in hand with the policeman.  That coat was the arms of God, wrapped around him.  That policeman's hand was the hand of God, leading the child to safety.   

And, no matter what your political party, I hope you saw God in the president's address.  As he called us to pray, as he quoted Scripture.  As he asked God to bless the memories of the lost, and he asked God to "heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3).  

I think we will hear more stories of heroics as the days pass.  We will hear precious memories of the little ones and the adults lost.  And in those words and those stories and those memories, we will see God.  

We all have a choice.  It's the same choice we had yesterday, before we knew this horror.  Before this loss occurred.  We either choose to believe God is in control and has a plan and can bring a good purpose from any tragedy.  Or we don't.  

And, if we do believe God is who He said he was, then we have a choice to be the prayer warriors this town needs.  We can make a difference as we intercede and plead with heaven to hold them close.  There, in those moments of petition, we can be the hands and feet of God.  It's no small ministry to pray fervently.  So, if you want to do something to help, then let's fall to our knees.

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