The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us – Matthew 1:23 (NIV)
On Thursday of this week I was preparing a post for this weekend, but it wasn’t this one. The events of Friday changed everything. I’m writing the post I didn’t plan to write or wish I didn’t have to write, but felt compelled to write. Unless you’ve been on a complete media fast, you have no doubt by now heard about the horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown Connecticut on Friday where a 20 year old gunman killed his own mother before traveling to a nearby elementary school to open fire on children and school administrators before taking his own life. In the end, 26 people lay dead including 20 children. President Barach Obama is his emotional address to the nation in the aftermath of the shooting aptly tapped into the nation’s sentiments when he said, “we’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years.”
As a parent, especially the parent of an elementary school student, it is very easy for me to place myself in the shoes of those shocked and grieving parents. Those parents who had been making preparations for Christmas, but now find themselves making plans for funerals. I find myself haunted by the thought of Christmas gifts already purchased that will go unopened. The phrase, “one more week more week” keeps playing in my head. These children would have been on holiday break in a week, likely safe from the reaches of a troubled and evil gunman. A ghastly pale now lingers over the town of Newtown Connecticut. Instead of the Grinch, it was Adam Lanza who stole Christmas.
I leave it for others to attempt to answer the “why” questions. Why did the gunman take his actions? Why did God allow this happen? Any attempts at answering these questions will bring little consolation and solace to the suffering. Scripture tells us there is “a time to weep” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and now is that time to weep with those impacted by this tragedy. While Newtown may have been robbed of Christmas, they have not been robbed of Christ. We can be assured that just as Christ was in the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew boys, He is the furnace of affliction with the Newtown residents. Just as he wept at the graveside of his friend Lazarus, he is weeping now with the family members and friends of the shooting victims. It is during the Advent season, but especially during times like these that we are reminded that Jesus is indeed Immanuel, “God with us.”
I ask that you would agree with me in pray for the following groups:
- The parents, siblings, grandparents and extended family of those who were killed.
- The children who were in the school at the time of the shooting who must deal with their own trauma as they grieve the loss of friends and classmates.
- The first responders who had to witness the grizzly crime scene. No amount of training would prepare someone to witness such carnage.
- The schoolteachers and administrators who must carry and “be strong” for their students but whose hearts are breaking inside.
- Ryan Lanza, the brother of the shooter and son of the first victim. He is not likely garner public sympathy and will have to deal with the guilt that his brother caused so much heartache for so many people.
Having trouble finding the words to pray? Might I suggest the words penned by one of my favorite bloggers Debbie Kay on her blog “Hope For The Broken-Hearted.”