Sadly, once again, we as a nation of families and individuals are trying to make sense of the senseless. Death always feels wrong, even in old age, but in children? And by execution? In a classroom? It is unfathomable because it is irrational. Evil is incomprehensible.
In the midst of the TV images of panic, fear and anguish are images of Newtown’s residents in churches, streaming there to find comfort, peace and a measure of understanding. As has been true in every other national or local tragedy, hurting people go to church, or they gather in small groups in homes. We desperately need what only God and His people can provide: reminders that He can take the evil which He Himself hates and the profound grief which He Himself feels and transform it into something good … in time.
And always in those churches and at the spontaneous memorials outside the sites of destruction are two tangibles: candles and flowers. Tragedy threatens to overwhelm with palpable gloom because unleashed acts of evil are from the power of darkness itself. There is a devil whose goal is to destroy. When we see what he can persuade someone to do we see cold blackness. Instinctively we seek the light and its warmth. Darkness-piercing candles remind us there is hope. In lighting them our souls are pleading for the light of heaven to dispel the darkness. Both now and forever.
Though nothing beautiful came with the shooter or remained in the carnage he left, Beauty still lives. Stories of heroism will emerge, selfless images of love-inspired grace. Yes, Beauty will overcome. This too we know intuitively and so we bring flowers to express that longing, to cover the evil stain, to visually remind ourselves and others that good remains alive. All will be made right … in time.
There are holy words to which we must cling, not because they are magic wands to make it all better, but because they are promises for the future: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purposes,” (Romans 8:28) and, “as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good … ” (Genesis 50:20) The pain these families are experiencing will never go away, though it will lessen eventually. God will work redemption, which means transforming the works of evil into works of triumph. These verses speak to that someday story. They tell us to hang on in faith even though bewilderment is now stronger. Only words that transcend time can speak order and peace to an otherworldly chaos.
For those who remain, all who are still living, the redemption God wants to work is here, not just in Connecticut. He longs to reveal goodness. Today. Moms and Dads are conduits of stability to their children. What do we believe? What do we say?
As we adults deepen our roots into the soil of eternal truth we can feed the souls of our children with messages of hope that will put their hearts in His hands. For their future encounters with tragedy and pain we must do this. Talk about this evil. Talk about the hope of Christ. Teach them that the darkness will not win.
Even though many Newtown residents took down their Christmas decorations, the incarnation remains alive. Unchanged. More profoundly real than ever. The Light of the world was born on Christmas day and He has promised that all things will be made new. May this be your hope, your prayer, your rock in every storm.
For more specifics on what to say to your children when difficulty and tragedy come near:
:: How to Talk to Our Children about Disasters – Part 1
:: How to Talk to Our Children about Disasters – Part 2
:: How to Talk to Our Children about Disasters – Part 3