The collective heart of our nation has been pierced this past weekend by the senseless murder of innocent children and the adults who cared for them. In our sorrow we have seen the faces of these precious children who are now in the eternal presence of God. Better men have and will write their helpful thoughts about this tragedy. My prayer is that the following thoughts might bring some comfort and encouragement to those who read them. I share these thoughts with you as a fellow struggler who longs for that same eternal reward that the precious children have entered.
SINFUL ACTS ALWAYS BRING PAIN. Whenever someone commits a heinous, senseless act like taking the lives of innocent children the pain seems unbearable. When we see the pain that is caused by sin it may help us to consider our own sin.
We hurt others when we sin. We hurt others with our actions. We hurt others with our words. We hurt family members, friends, fellow Christians, and people we don’t even know.
A husband who walks out on his wife and children because he has found someone else brings great harm. A mother who decides she no longer loves her husband brings great harm. Parents who turn the raising of their children over to others just to build a better lifestyle harm their children greatly. An adult child who turns his or her back on the teachings of their parents causes great pain. A friend who turns their back on another friend, or spreads gossip about another friend cause pain. A Christian who says no to the Lord breaks the heart of the Savior.
SATAN IS ALIVE AND HE IS BUSY. In our fallen world Satan is “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Satan can devour us when he tempts us and succeeds in getting us to turn away from God.
Satan can devour us by getting us to turn our eyes away from our purpose to glorify God. (1 Peter 4:11) Satan can devour us by causing us to take our eyes off our mission to proclaim the Good News to the world. (Matthew 28:18-20) Satan can devour us by discouraging us with the evil that exists in our world.
SENSELESS EVENTS DON’T MAKE SENSE. We all what to know how something like this terrible tragedy could happen? We want to know what in the world would cause an individual to decide to kill innocent children? We want to know why?
The unfortunate bottom line is there are some things that just don’t make sense. There are no easy answers. We can know that as long as sinful men exist in a fallen world sinful acts will occur. Sin causes us to do unspeakable things. Other senseless events that don't make sense have occurred in the past few days and will continue to occur.
As well, we can know that as long as Christians are in the world good things will happen. People who have Christ living in them will comfort those who mourn. They will encourage the brokenhearted. They will reach out to the hurting with the love of Jesus.
SORROW IS A PART OF EVERY LIFE. Job said, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1) As long as this fallen world exists there will be sorrow. The tears of life cannot be permanently wiped away until we enter into the Eternal presence of God. (Revelation 21:4)
There will be times in our life when we are on top of the mountain. There will also be times that we will find ourselves in the valley. The goal should be to eventually find our way out of the sorrowful moments and enjoy life to the best of our ability. No one who lives very long is immune to sorrow. We must all endure it to understand fully the joy that we can experience in Jesus.
SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT UNSAID. When we lost a son a well-meaning sister came to the hospital to “cheer us up.” She sat for what seemed like hours and told us jokes as well as what she thought were humorous stories. We were not amused.
Grief should not be rushed. Some people may get over a tragedy quickly, but most people take a lot of time to grieve. To try to rush someone through grief just because you were able to get through it quickly is thoughtless.
It is unconscionable how some folks use a tragedy like this terrible event to push their chosen agenda. It took only a few minutes for those who want to outlaw guns to begin their campaign again.
Some who call themselves Christians and despise the anti-gun crowd using this platform to push that agenda fail to see the correlation when they use a tragedy like this to push their own agenda.
I have read or heard from Christians who have used this terrible event to advance their beliefs about abortion, praying in school, about homeschooling children, and about elections.
It is wrong-headed thinking to try to convince ourselves or others that if we would just outlaw guns, if we would just allow praying in school, if we would all home school our children, or if we would just elect the right government officials tragic events like this would never happen.
We must learn that as long as evil exists we will have to deal with unthinkable acts. They will happen in shopping malls, in movie theatres, on street corners, in “safe” neighborhoods, and even in church buildings. I have known preachers and elders who have abused children in the house of worship. These kinds of evil acts can happen anywhere when men choose to sin.
I am not saying we should never discuss the aforementioned topics, I’m just saying we need to be sensitive to those who are suffering and cease using their time of sorrow to advance our cause. The Holy Spirit was clear that there is a time when we should do and say what we think. By implication He was also saying there are times we need to refrain from doing and saying what we think. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Some very dear friends of our lost their son while he was protecting our nation a few years ago. I cringed when I heard someone say in the presence of my friends that the Lord through their prayers had brought their loved one home safely. My friends were faithful in their walk with God and they prayed every day that their son would come home safe. He did not. I will not discuss the Theology of that entire thought here. I will simply say that we must be sensitive to the pain of others when we speak. Sometimes we need to hold our thoughts close to the vest.
SENSING THE PRESENCE OF GOD IS NOT ALWAYS EASY. One question that is often asked when a terrible tragedy such as this happens is, “Where was God?” We believe that God is present in our world. However God does not stop every tragedy. God allows human beings to make their own choices.
And just as we are heartbroken when people we love make harmful choices, it breaks the heart of God to watch people He has created hurt others. God weeps when His people or when His little children are hurt. It is during those times when we have been hurt the deepest that we struggle with sensing the presence of God.
Think of Job when his family is being slaughtered by Satan (he lost ten children in one day). Think of Joseph being thrown into a pit by his brothers, then sold into slavery, then thrown into prison for thirteen years. Only after it all happened was he able to recognize fully that God had been with him through it all.
Think of the Son of God himself being suspended between Heaven and earth crying out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” There will always be dark moments when we have difficulty sensing the presence of our Father. Even during the times we cannot sense it, He is very near.
SHARING THE MESSAGE OF HOPE IS CRUCIAL WHEN TRAGEDY STRIKES. My wife and I had a son who passed away after only living for about ten minutes. I lost both of my parents, in my opinion too soon. My wife has been through two bouts with cancer at a relatively early age. I have family members who have turned their back on the Lord and His church.
I know well that there are many who have been through much worse in their life. I tell you this to simply say that a God of hope sustains us. Our Father promises us that regardless of what we face in this life, if we will remain loyal to Him we will receive the crown of life. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
It is this hope that motivates us to continue living for Him. It is this hope that encourages us to remain faithful. It is this hope that those of us who are children of the King must share with the world.
Jesus is the ultimate hope for our world, for our nation, for our families, for the church, and for our lives. Jesus is the message our world needs to hear. Not from a smug, arrogant people who think we have arrived. But from broken, lost, hopeless people who have been redeemed and given a new, living hope. (Ephesians 1:18; Romans 15:13; 1 Peter 1:3)
Let us continue our prayers for those whose lives have forever been altered by this tragedy. Let us pray that they will find hope and peace in Jesus. Let us pray for the family of the man who committed this unspeakable act. Let us pray for our nation that Jesus might be found again. Let us pray for our families that Jesus might reign in our hearts. Let us pray for the church that the compassion and love of Jesus might live within us.
Dear Father in Heaven, we continue to pray for the many families who are grieving because of the loss of their loved ones. We pray that they might find peace, comfort, and hope in You. We pray that you will help us all to grow closer to you. We pray that You would help those of us who can to be willing to share the message of hope that Jesus brings. We pray that our world, our nations, our churches, and our families might learn to overcome the evil one through Jesus. In the Name of the One who brings hope we pray, Amen.