Like many of you, I was deeply saddened and sickened by the heartbreak and wickedness of last week’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. This atrocity, coming so quickly on the heels of similar horrors like the shootings in Aurora, Tuscon, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Paducah, and others, leaves me numb and stunned. As a new parent of a one-year-old girl, I could not stop the tears as I watched the shocked and grieving parents and family members of those poor children who had their futures together as families here on earth sickeningly taken from them. What gives me encouragement and gratitude in these hard times is the fact that the Bible teaches that children are in fact innocent, guiltless of sin. Children do not inherit the sins of their ancestors (Ezek. 18:1-20) and are our examples of how to be in order to enter into God’s kingdom (Matt. 18:1-4). Thus, while I am deeply saddened that the lives of these young ones were cut short in such a horrific way, I am glad that they are now at rest and in comfort at Abraham’s side in Paradise, and will be judged on that last day to be guiltless and ushered into eternal peace and rest in heaven (Luke 16:19-25; 2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46).
As a minister, I’ve been asked why God has allowed these horrible evils to occur, especially to innocent children. This is a legitimate and relevant question, and we must go to the Bible to find the answers. Some find this hard to accept, but God has always given man freedom to choose between righteousness and evil (Josh. 24:14-15). Because man so many times chooses to sin rather than to follow God, this life is filled with problems and tragedies. When these tragedies come at the hands of sinful man, we must recognize that sinful man is to blame…not God. We can trust that God will bring justice for those who have been harmed or killed on the day of judgment (Eccl. 12:14; Rom. 12:19). Mr. Lanza might have escaped justice at the hands of the law when he ended his own life last Friday, but he has not escaped the justice of God (Luke 16:19-25; Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8).
As those who want to follow Jesus Christ, I encourage us to focus our energies on praying for and providing comfort and support to those who are suffering and grieving right now. Some might think that now is the time to preach about how this is the result of our society continuing to turn away from God, or to argue the safety pros and cons of homeschooling versus public schooling, or to debate about whether stricter gun control laws and security for schools are needed. These may or may not be legitimate and relevant topics of discussion, but what gets lost in the focus given on them at this time is the fact that right now in Newton and the surrounding areas are parents, grandparents, husbands, boyfriends, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters who are going to bed each night knowing that the joy of their lives and the light in their hearts has been taken from them in the worst way possible. Right now tears are being shed. Right now the heart-rending noise of sobs are being heard throughout many homes instead of the laughter of small voices which filled those same rooms just a few days ago. Right now there is an empty, freshly made hole in the hearts of many that will never be completely filled. Next week will be the first Christmas of many, many Christmases that will be lacking in joy and fulfillment for so many families because they will not see that smiling, happy, excited little face in front of the tree any longer. We have a responsibility to them, the responsibility to comfort them and bear their burdens as much as we possibly can (2 Cor. 1:3-7; Gal. 6:2), the responsibility to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
So I encourage us to take the time we would spend debating and discussing these other topics and instead use it to let our light shine by immersing ourselves in the good work of comforting the stricken and bereaved in Newton. It is in that way that God will truly be glorified (Matt. 5:16), and it is in that way that the world will know that you are truly a disciple of Christ (John 13:34-35). Send them cards of comfort. Write words of sympathy and compassion and care on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. If you live near them, go to them and help them as best you can by sitting with them, praying with them, letting them have that shoulder to lean on and cry on. And above all, pray for them hourly, deeply, and fervently. Be a blessing to them, because they need it now more than ever.
Parents, hug your little ones tonight. Spend time with them, play with them, cherish them. Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, tell each other about the love you have for them. Embrace them and support them. You never know how much time you have left with each other (James 4:13-17). Use the time you have with each other wisely (Eph. 5:15-16). Love each other and support each other, and give some of that love and support in whatever way you can to those in Newton who are mourning and grieving over their losses right now.