Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Time To Mourn, A Time To Weep, A Time To Pray

On Friday, December 14, an unspeakable act occurred - 20 children and 6 adults were shot to death by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  We look at this act in utter disbelief, trying to understand why someone would do this.  To take a gun and use it to kill 20 helpless first grade children and 6 teachers who were doing what they could to protect these children.

We cannot help but mourn the tragic loss of life in Newtown.  There was absolutely no need for this.  There are 20 families grieving for the loss of their 6 and 7 year old children.  It is so hard to fathom what it must be like for these parents to have to bury their children, and it is happening only a week before Christmas.  Usually this is a time of joy and happiness.  It's a time to spend time with those closest to you.  These families will now have to lay that aside and mourn over the loss of their children.

There are 6 adults who perished in this massacre.  By all accounts, they died trying to protect the lives of the students.  They died taking heroic actions against a man intent on killing.  These people died heroes.  We read in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  These teachers and administrators exemplified that Bible verse - they showed love to those children by trying to protect them, even to the point of giving up their own lives.  Yet, just as the children who perished, these teachers are people who have families, who have children, who have parents.  These families also mourn at the loss of their loved ones.

We cannot help but mourn for the families that lost loved ones that fateful Friday.  We cannot help but mourn for other school children, who lost their friends and siblings that day.  We mourn for the teachers who lost their co-workers.  We mourn for a community that lost 26 people to a senseless act of violence that did not have to happen.

And because we mourn for these affected by this tragedy, we should not be ashamed to weep with compassion for them.  Though maybe not considered to be a manly response, it is very understandable to want to cry for these families.  After all, Jesus Christ wept when his friend, Lazarus, died.  He wept, not only for Lazarus, but for His people and Jerusalem.  If it is OK for Jesus to weep, then I have no problem being able to weep in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

The people in Newtown, CT are experiencing unspeakable tragedy.  We weep with them because we see the tragedy that others must now face.  We weep because we see what unbridled evil is able to do in the heart of someone who allows it to be there.  We weep for the senseless loss of life.  We weep because there are those who do not necessarily mourn over the loss of life, but how they might be able to use this event to further their own selfish, political ambitions.

But as we mourn, and as we weep, we must also pray.  We must pray that those who are so closely affected by this tragedy are able to mourn.  We must pray that these people are able to heal.  We must pray for our schools, that they will be able to keep our children safe.  We must pray for our nation, that we do not lose sight of the fact that we need God's guidance and protection, not just in our schools, but in our communities and in our homes.

It's hard to understand why these things happen.  Why did God allow it to happen?  How could He let this happen to children?  How could someone be this evil?  What drove him to do it?  We may never find out the answers to these questions.  We can look up Bible verses all day long.  We can ask the most learned among us.  And we may never know the answers.

But I think we can take solace in the fact, that even though horrendous events like this happen, God still loves us.  He loved us enough to send His Son to die for us.  I think we would be wise to look at the words of a song written by Marsha Stevens, and heed them.
You said you'd come and share all my sorrows
You said you'd be there for all my tomorrows
I came so close to sending you away
And just like you promised, you came there to stay
I just had to pray.

And Jesus said, Come to the water, stand by my side,
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied.
I felt every teardrop when in darkness you cried,
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.
I also think that we should not be afraid to talk to our kids about this kind of tragedy.  While most "experts" believe that you should not do this, it is important for our children to know that evil exists.  It's also important for them to know what it is like to mourn for others, to have compassion for others, to pray for others.

We also need to show love to our children.  We need to love them, hug them, cherish them.  We just don't know how much longer we have with them.

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