(This is a terribly long post, but I’d be honoured if you’d let me share my honest thoughts with you…)
The terrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School cast a shadow of deep dark gloom and sadness over much of the world this weekend. It was horrific, this heart-wrenching and devastating event. It was so, so cruel, the taking of so many innocent lives – both children and adults – just like that. Two minutes was all it took to create a big gaping hole in the hearts of so many loved ones, who have lost their beloved parent, child, brother, sister, friend… the pain and anguish is almost unthinkable, and I wept to imagine the searing loss, as I kissed David repeatedly when he woke up, and then again cradling little Daryl to sleep that night. I know I was/am not alone.
Like so many of you, I ask “Why, God, why?” especially when I think about the children, departing this earth at such a young age. And I mourn the loss of these precious lives who will never learn to drive, never graduate, never walk down the aisle, never travel the world. So many lost opportunities; so many unmade memories. How on earth do their parents cope, I wonder. And I feel, shamefully, unspeakably, thankful that I am here, and not there. Miles away from the carnage and pain. But the heart still connects, across the globe, and so we feel for our brothers and sisters who are there, whose hearts are shattered into a million pieces by their great, great loss.
Even with this weighing on my heart, I had too busy a weekend to stay down. We had a Christmas party for friends on Saturday, and a long day at church plus Christmas shopping on Sunday. Hardly any time to think or wallow in grief, and for someone like me, I can very easily compartmentalize. So it wasn’t until late last night that I really stopped to think deeply, and allow God to converse with me on this whole aftermath, and put my emotions into shape.
During the worship service in the morning, the leader shared his personal grief about the shooting. And, like many of you, I have been reading articles online from all sources, and various blog posts by both friends and strangers, and almost nobody, it seems, is untouched by this tragedy. And I don’t think we should be.
But then it occurred to me, and I knew I must share this on my blog. Even though it may offend some readers, or seem an unfair comparison. The thing is… massacres like the shooting on 14 December 2012 happen every. single. day. And we don’t notice it or think about it. But when something like this happens, and the media spews it out around the globe, it becomes all we talk of for days.
We (myself included) post comments about how we treasure our kids more, how anti-gun laws should be a no-brainer, how homeschooling is the way to go, how the world is going to pieces etc, we imagine the scenario and weep with empathy and sympathy. We ask each other, how do you feel? Or conversely avoid the topic altogether.
And then, a few days or weeks down the road, we move on. We forget. Life goes back to ‘normal’.
But then I remember – this massacre, this sudden and brutal snuffing out of life – this IS normal. ‘Normal’ in the sense that it happens every. single. day. We just don’t think about it the same way.
I don’t mean to make light of the shooting. Never my intention. It was a cruel tragedy and every single one of the victims deserves to be remembered. Every family affected deserves and needs our tears and prayers and encouragement. I just want to add another perspective to it.
Every day, millions of children and adults suffer the horrible act of rape or sexual abuse. Thousands are sold to brothels against their will, or give their bodies and souls up out of desperation, with nowhere else to turn. Whole communities are stripped of all human dignity, and forced to live like animals, with physical death their better option.
Hearts are torn apart and hope is scooped out, until there is nothing left. Homes are ravaged and destroyed, often for no real reason at all. Bodies are dumped, burned, decapitated, buried. Their lives, too, are erased in an instant, but no one knows, and if we’re honest, many of us can’t bear to know and allow ourselves to care.
Young children, so young your heart breaks for them again and again, are forced to lives their whole lives for another. They have never known, and may never know, what it feels like to be loved. Their bodies lie in ditches and huts, forests and rivers. Their blood soaks the earth, but no one hears their cry. They were innocent too, just like the dear ones who were killed on 14 December.
Mothers and fathers who shielded their young and were abused or killed in the process – they are just as heroic and deserving of praise and ‘likes’ on FB as the teachers who bravely gave their lives for their students.
All I’m saying, I guess, is that we shouldn’t allow the Sandy Hook shooting to become the ‘latest news’ or see it as something extraordinarily tragic, but recognize that tragedies like these are happening around the world all the time. Let’s not just ‘move on’ from here, but let’s continue to pray and ache and intercede for the many more tragedies that take place that the media doesn’t tell us about. And how could they, anyway, there are too, too many.
One last thought, but it was an important revelation to me. If, like me, you believe that God loves every single one of us, and created every one to be a part of his family, how do you think HE feels when he sees brother turn on brother, sister against sister, ripping their very flesh and spirits apart? If we lost sleep over a tear-filled night, how about HIM who sees it all, day and night, and weeps over a world which is blind to His love?
Does God care? Of course He does! He is our Father. But like any parent on earth, like you and me, what can He do? If our children are errant and rebel, what can we do? It’s their choice to make, their life to lead, once they are of age. The most, which we can do, is to institutionalize them. And some have done that. But still, that’s after they have committed a crime of some nature as proof of their need for such a confinement, yes?
So what do we want God to do to these perpetrators of violence? Sometimes I secretly hope He would just strike them dead. Or thwart all their plans. Or just kill them at birth. That only people who are good and nice and kind would ever be born, would ever survive to live on this earth.
But then I remember, there is no one righteous – not one. Even the best and nicest and kindest person is flawed. And somehow, that sin would taint the good, nice, kind world. And we wouldn’t be that way, anymore. It’s virtually impossible. Such a community just cannot exist, in this lifetime, on this earth.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23
So instead of asking “God, why?”, here’s what I have to say:
God, how do You feel? Oh God, how could You bear it to see all these things happen? How can you sit there and let it be? Oh God, I see it now, how Your heart breaks and weeps and splinters from the pain. How your grief is immeasurable compared to ours. Your sorrow, God, it would break us, completely. We can never know, never fathom the depth, and height, and breadth and length of your pain. We can never understand Your loss. We cannot begin to know Your thoughts, Your plans, Your longings.
And yet, Lord, You choose to love us, even in Your pain. Even though You see every single flaw in every single person, You still love us. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You because I know I could never be capable of this kind of love.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”l
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.