My heart has broken, crumbled in a million tiny, heavy pieces with the news of the horrifying massacre in Newtown, Connecticut last week.
As a mommy of six precious little ones, one being my own beautiful six year-old first grader, I like so many others, weep in disbelief.
Tears. Prayers. Anger. Prayers. Shock. Prayers. Disbelief. Prayers. Anxiety. Prayers. Fear. Prayers. More tears. Prayers.
The empty arms. The heartaches. The devastating sorrow.
Forced to face one agonizing step and then another and another toward some sense of normalcy.
For here we are, moving slowly and helplessly forward, many children having faced their first day back at school-
While others attend funerals of their friends.
Our world will never be the same again.
Grief that comes with the death of innocent children and the renewed reality of the evil in our world has wrapped itself around each of us like a blanket, dimming the joy of the season.
We grapple for answers. And feel helpless to do anything.
And we are left with a longing to hold our loved ones more tightly, an urgency to bottle every moment, a desire to guide and train our children better, and a deep desperation for One to come and save us from the pain and the evil and the suffering… One who will make all things right.
I watch with a mixture of extreme joy and grief-stricken guilt as wrapping paper flies off of the piles of the beautiful gifts found secretly placed on our doorstep. And then as we gather with tiny hands folded to thank Jesus. As our children dance in the snow. And as they lift their voices of praise to God, singing “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and many more at their Christmas program.
Snapshots of life go by, and I can’t shake the thought of the gifts that will go unopened and the Christmas programs that will go on with little ones missing. The snowmen not built. The smiles no longer seen this side of heaven.
My sorrows seem tiny in comparison.
Yet somehow God in His goodness still cares about me.
My sin now looks miniscule in my own eyes.
Yet God sees the vast difference from His holy perfection.
And now Christmas and Jesus – His birth and His death – take on a deeper meaning.
When the world was dark and God seemed silent, hope came down in the form of a babe.
For that little baby, the Son of God, came to a world just as dark and sinful and evil as we saw last week. And that sinless One, scorned and rejected by those He came to save, in an unspeakable act of evil, was murdered on the cross – taking upon himself all of the punishment and payment for sin and evil in your life and mine.
What mercy and love that God would take the most heinous act of His death on the cross, and use it for our salvation. What grace and goodness that God would come, and would live and breathe and die amidst the smelly, dirty, evil darkness.
God with us.
In the evil.
In the pain.
In the suffering.
In the darkness.
In the halls and the rooms of that elementary school.
Amidst a world that has turned its back on Him.
Amidst the sorrowful moms and dads with empty arms.
Amidst you and me.
God with us.
As we go through the motions and take shaky steps forward, and as we choke back the sobs and search for answers, we can find hope in knowing that God is with us. He is good and He is loving. He is gracious and kind and forgiving. Yet He is also righteous and just and redeeming. He will not let any amount of sin go unpunished. We have a choice, starting with today, whether we will turn to Him or farther away.
For no matter the evil and tragedy and sorrow and gunmen, through the power of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, He is victorious! He is coming to make all things right, to save from darkness, and wipe the tears from our eyes! For all who are saved through faith in His life, death, and resurrection, we can be assured that there is coming a day when we will not have to endure sin and evil and sorrow ever again.
Oh, how I can’t help but adore Him!
* * * * * * * * * *
“Dear God, please help me forget.”
The written prayer of one of my sweet girls after hearing tiny bits of the horrifying events of children her own age.
She knows very little. We’ve chosen to guard the hearts of our children and to shelter their minds from much of the devastation and heartache. (The littlest ones completely!) But seeing mommy in tears and hearing bits and pieces in hushed tones and prayers have been etched in the little minds of my elementary aged girls.
They appeared at my side as I read of the news for the first time, with tears making puddles on my lap, I don’t even realize they are standing there with me until one of them asks what is wrong. With a heavy heart, I feel God guiding me…
*I pray to speak truth. To share while protecting. Recognizing that “I don’t know!” is a relevant answer. And silence is necessary.
*I acknowledge the evil and the wrong that was done.
*I hug my girls closely, allowing each of us to grieve, for God is grieved too.
*I point them to the gospel. That just as terrible sin was shown last week, how each of us has sin in our hearts and desperately need a Savior.
*We pray for the families and Newtown community… over and over again.
*I watch for looks and actions of fears and questions, and then do my best to point them to Jesus.
*I guard against negative. No news while they’re awake. Taking note of any evil that might be filtering in through video games, movies, cell phones, magazines, friends, etc. And taking action to protect their innocence while recognizing that we cannot live in a bubble.
*I trust in His goodness and do my best to model what it is like to not let fear reign.
*I cry out to God over and over again as I seek Him in the deep, deep sorrow.
* * * * * * * *
Dear friends, the hurting is deep. Many of our own little ones of elementary school age have had a piece of their innocence stripped away as they heard of the tragedy- from us as parents, in prayers at church, from teachers or friends at school. It is not right. Words seem trite. We’d rather forget and hideaway from it all. Yet God is good. And He is with us.
“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.”
If you are hurting, grieving, or questioning your faith- I’d be honored to pray with you and come alongside you during this painful time!