As I write this post, my heart is troubled with grief. I’m hurting with those who are hurting, and mourn with those who are mourning. Words cannot express the hurt and pain felt by those who lost loved ones in the Newtown, Connecticut Elementary School Shooting as we near Christmas. My heart aches, and my prayers go out to those who have been affected- those whose lives will be forever changed.
I’ve spent time watching and reading the news surrounding this horrifying event, and I cannot get over the senseless violence. I’m angry at the killer, and I want justice for those who’ve been hurt. We may, however, never see the justice and healing we hope for. When this sort of tragedy occurs, the hurt and pain often lasts a lifetime. Some families may never recover.
Nonetheless, I do look for hope, and I find it in various places. I’m thankful for the many prayers and acts of kindness that have been poured out by caring people. Prayer vigils quickly sprang up in Newtown and across the state, and more are scheduled today. A special service was held at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown Friday night. The church was filled to capacity with members of the community, and hundreds remained outside. People held hands in circles praying, lit candles, and sang hymns. 26 candles were lit during the vigil in memory of the victims.
Friends and family members are reaching out as best they can, hoping to comfort each other- if at all possible. Beautiful memorials have sprung up, and people across the United States and around the world have shown their love and support in symbolic gestures- ribbons, wreaths, white lights and flags have been placed to honor the victims. And many have posted touching words of love and support all over the internet.
Still many are asking why this had to happen. But there is no easy answer. Even the best answers may never stop the hurt and pain. Every time a tragic event is encountered, people are forced into an unexpected and unwelcomed situation that they must deal and cope with, or live a life of ongoing suffering and pain.
Faith in God is one answer, and I pray that many who are suffering today will fall into the loving arms of our heavenly Father, and find the hope and healing that only he can provide. God suffers and mourns with us, for he is full of compassion and mercy, and he doesn’t allow the guilty to go unpunished. He is with us. He has emotions, and has expressed his deep emotions in Scripture as a loving Father. We also know that Jesus himself wept when he heard of the passing of his good friend Lazarus. In fact Jesus was always aware of the suffering others were dealing with, and he comforted those in need. He himself endured suffering at the hands of evil men, and he experienced anguish and great pain in his death. Scripture tells us that he had to endure much suffering and die because of the unfathomable love he has for us. Even now Jesus meets us in our suffering, and he is opposed to the evil we may endure.
Scripture also reveals why we suffer- although knowing the reason doesn’t necessarily bring the comfort we long for. We do know that sin is responsible for the suffering and pain we face. When sin entered the world, pain, suffering and death began to reign. We also learn, however, that such pain and suffering has value, although we rarely see or understand that as we endure it. Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope. Ultimately, if we place our faith in Christ, the suffering we endure will not compare with the glory that will be revealed in us, and we will look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
It is my hope and prayer that all who are affected will find peace and comfort, and that they will put their hope and faith in Christ, and that he will wipe away every tear. Let me close with this passage of Scripture found in Revelation 21:1-4:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”