As the news broke in on TV stations across the board telling of a school shooting, my initial thought was that we've had enough of these shootings lately. I continued watching as the number of dead was flashed on the screen. Upon seeing 27 had died, I flashed back to April 20, 1999 when I sat glued to the TV in my living room watching the coverage of the shootings at Columbine in Littleton, CO. At Columbine, 13 were killed. Here in the town of Newtown, CT, 27 were killed. It still hadn't dawned on me yet that this was an elementary school. Suddenly, the number at the bottom of the screen changed to suggest that 18 to 20 of those killed were children, and probably kindergarteners at that. I sat there and cried. I grabbed my little girl and hugged her and kissed her and thought about the parents who will never be able to do that again.
Times like this, incidents like this . . . there are no words. The questions of "why" and "how" won't find any useful answers now, or probably ever. Kids who were just putting on a Christmas musical the night before were now dead. Kids! Eleven days away from Christmas, parents now have to look at a Christmas tree with presents under it that will never be opened by the ones they purchased them for. There was no chance to say goodbye. Closure isn't even something remotely in the ballpark of grasping. No parent could have had the thought as they dropped their little one off for school that this would be the last time they ever saw them alive, spoke to them, held their hand, or felt a warm squeeze and embrace. How do you reconcile all of those thoughts and images?
As a believer, I would obviously point to the Bible. It's the only hope we have. I'm reminded of Psalm 34:18, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." I'm reminded of Jesus' own words in announcing His arrival on earth's scene in the synagogue in Luke 4:18-19 or the complete prophecy in whole of Isaiah 61:1-3: He came to set the captive free, heal the broken, and proclaim favor. Those verses speak to the reality that Christ desires to heal those whose hearts are broken into a million pieces. The scriptures tell us that He's a very present help in our times of need. Jesus Himself said that He wouldn't leave us nor forsake us. Those scriptures and truth no doubt can bring comfort and peace. But the questions still remain. In times of extreme grief and turmoil, sometimes the words of Jesus are better acted out than spoken. Maybe instead of just telling someone what Christ said, we can act out and be that which Christ said. Sometimes the best way to help someone heal is to just be there with or without words. In regards to those families in CT, its a fact that most of us around the country can't go to them and if we could, the lack of relationship or familiarity would probably only add to the noise. But what we can do is pray. Prayer is not limited to miles and means. The Holy Spirit isn't confined to sanctuaries and prayer rooms. We can pray. We can plead with Heaven that those touched by hell will now feel the visit of Heaven.
Many discussions are coming in a few days. Lawmakers will undoubtedly look at this scene and question what could have been done, if anything, to prevent it. Politicians will react from calls from their constituents to do something. These discussions must be had without a doubt and the time will most assuredly come in the next weeks for them to take place. I certainly have an opinion and will more than likely share it, but I must say that the time for those discussions is not now in my opinion. Americans all over the country have been touched by this evil. Emotions of anger mixed with sorrow and utter shock have formed a dangerous cocktail of reaction and response in the hearts of parents across this great land. Those emotions need to be heard and worked though. But more so than anything, healing has to take place. The next few days will be some of the most trying days for families in Newtown, CT. No doubt, emotions are raw in that city and in the homes of the victims. Their challenge is to bury their babies . . . a parent's worse nightmare. During this time, I would hope against hope that the outward expressions of our thoughts and words would be centered upon praying for the families victimized either through death or trauma by this demonic act and not be utilized to push partisanship, politics, and beliefs. The time for those discussions is coming, but couldn't they wait until after these babies are buried? Shouldn't it wait?
May we remember the families of Newtown, CT in our thoughts and prayers over the next several days especially and may we take advantage of the time we have with our children and loved ones this Christmas season and everyday after.