Our Only Comfort

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I don’t know what to do with what happened in Newtown, CT last Friday. I’m still processing it all. I believe the Lord God will be faithful to give to me what is sufficient to continue to trust him. And for that I am grateful and hopeful. I do have a couple of comments, though. The first is on the news media’s coverage of this tragedy and the second is on our response to the tragedy.

The news coverage (some refer to it as “reporting”) has grotesquely morphed into a circus, with politics and policies headlining the news feeds.  This senseless tragedy has thrust us all into a place of deep reflection, and for many of us, that reflection is not something we truly desire to see. So we go back to doing what we know; it’s much easier than facing the darkness of depravity. And for those in the media, they’ve gone back to doing what they know best: commentary. I have to think that it’s a nightmare for those families to have to deal with such excruciating pain in losing a child, spouse, or friend in that horrific way. But to have your grieving process broadcast for millions to consume, it really bothers me. It feels wrong, dirty. We care for those people, but there is a part of me that says “leave them alone and let them grieve.” Put the cameras away. Please.

With that said, once the news coverage relents and the sleepy community of Newtown, CT gets back to whatever semblance of “normal” they can muster, the reality in which we live still bears tremendous weight, and we must face it. We all have to face the darkness of what happened on December 14, 2012 and challenges us to find answers. It brings to mind many, many questions, of which there are few appropriate answers, and even fewer of lasting comfort. In these moments of tragedy, comfort is hard to come by because the idea of comfort  is the absence of discomfort, or at the very least, having that discomfort alleviated for a significant time. We like warm blankets and soft beds, warm coats and relaxing beach chairs. Those things are comfortable, as they should be, for a time.

But this kind of deep pain of loss we’ve witnessed isn’t just uncomfortable; it is tormenting. It isn’t like a sore muscle, or a bad headache, or even like a bad doctors visit. It is the complete absence of something you cannot replace, ever. It is a life, made in God’s image, and created for his glory. The absence of that life is like not having oxygen, it is suffocating and relentless. Those precious children and teachers of Sandy Creek Elementary School were a gift from God and their lives were inextricably connected to those who were given the task to care for them, cherish them, love them, and protect them. And now they are gone, taken away, and the pain is overwhelming.  God have mercy on those families, and on us all.

In the face of such terrible evil, we are at a loss as to what to say to make sense of it all. The truth is, there is no sensible explanation because this type of wickedness, as with any sin, is absolutely senseless. So without an explanation we’re left with the hopes of finding something to help us through it all. Those families of Newtown, and that entire community, need something to hold on to when they just can’t go any further. We all need that don’t we? If you know how to swim, drowning may not come quickly. But regardless of your ability to swim, there is only so long you can keep your head above water before your body says “enough!” You need something, or someone, to preserve your life for you. God knows this about all of us, so he gave us Jesus.

As a parent of 3 young children, I can’t even imagine how those moms and dads have been able to sleep at night. Their hearts ache, their heads are spinning, their bodies are tired and their will is spent. They are, in every sense of the word, “weary.” And Jesus knows this. He knows this so well about you and me and the people of Newtown that he told us what to do when the water is deep and we can’t paddle any longer. He says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

I can’t answer why that troubled young man walked into that school and murdered those loving adults and precious children. I don’t know why God would permit it to happen either. But he did. Maybe we aren’t supposed to know. Perhaps if we knew, we couldn’t handle it. I just don’t know what to do with that. In the meantime, my answer for attempting to “get through” something so tragic is to run to Jesus when you are weary, tired, burdened and filled with sorrows. He is rest for your weary soul and peace for your troubled heart. Find hope in the one who has borne our sorrows and experienced our grief (Isaiah 53:3). He understands pain. There is no Savior like Jesus because there is no one who has done what he has done (Hebrews 4:15). No one has ever left perfect peace to enter a world at war with itself. But Jesus did. And whatever wars you are fighting inside and out, Jesus understands your pain and his offer to you is to just rest in his presence (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

There is much more that has been said (see the helpful links below) and there will be much more to be said in the coming weeks and months. The pundits and knuckleheads will all give us their opinions about what is needed to make sure tragedies like this don’t happen. I am hopeful that maybe we can find a way to do more to protect the precious lives of God’s image bearers in the future. My hope and my desire is to point people to Jesus, so when you face inexplicable pain and suffering, you will know there is someone to turn to. His comfort is the only comfort that lasts.

If you would like further wisdom of how to deal with the tragedy of Friday, December 14, 2012, please read the articles below. These words have been a great help to me.

A Lesson For All From Newtown

How Does Jesus Come to Newtown

Where Shall We Put This Grief

And Slew the Little Childer

Prayers for Newtwon, CT, and for all of us

A Prayer in Response to the Newtown CT Tragedy

A Prayer for Grieving and Hoping During Advent

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