Adam Lanza devastated families and residents in Newtown, Connecticut, a week ago today. The heinous act violates every ethical framework either human or faith based. I recall a reporter stating the day it happened, “We have to make sense of this tragedy.” Good luck with that! The truth is you’ll never make sense of the tragedy. Trying to make sense only serves to trivialize the pain and minimize Adam’s actions. While I can’t explain or even make sense of this horrific event, these things I do know.
Forgiveness will need to come. We’ll need to forgive Adam, his family, failed systems, leaders, reactions, and lots of other stuff. Not so much for others, but for ourselves. It won’t happen overnight. It’s dark, but there is a dawn. Forgiveness will come – as much a process as a destination. It’ll be slow, but intentional. We know forgiveness for our own sake, health, peace, and strength for each subsequent day.
If you believe God really does answer prayer, pray for the families involved in this tragedy. I believe prayer does make a difference. God moves at the fervent prayers of His people. He’s not a vending machine God, but a God which is stirred by the passionate pleas of His. Pray for the town residents, the families, community leaders, school leaders, and responders. Pray specifically for the children and educators who will return to a classroom. Pray for God’s peace, compassion, mercy, grace, and strength.
Evil lurks in familiar places. Adam lived among these people. He wasn’t an outsider or unknown entity. Who would have thought? We live in geography permeated by evil. I’m hesitant to call a person evil, though their deeds are blatantly evil. Evil isn’t just the big stuff, it’s the small stuff too – deceit, neglect, abuse, unkindness, anger, and cruelty. Evil is all around us and its existence demonstrates our essential need for Christ.
And what about the proximity of God? Was He on vacation or off the clock? Where was God in all this? How could God allow such a horrible thing to happen? Have you forgotten about evil and the fallen nature of man? While evil is real, remember that God is present too. What about the people who were not harmed? What about all the god-moments (coincidences) and stories we’ve heard about? We are all creatures of choice in the sovereignty of God. God was in the midst.
We need to slow down and grieve. People in crisis seldom make good decisions. This is evidenced by the emotional and political responses of any number of people regarding gun control legislation. Instead of this moment being about the care of these hurting families, the conversation turns to gun control. Politicians frenzied by emotion are too quick in conversing about the introduction of legislation. Do you really think this would have never happened had there been different laws on Connecticut’s books? We can’t be so naive as to believe the solution is that easy. We must be careful with decisions made out of emotion simply because people in crisis don’t make good decisions. Let’s slow down and step back for a moment. We need to put some space between that Friday and any new significant legislation. Here’s a thought: maybe Iraq and our deficit would look different today if we’d not made a decision in crisis (definitely another topic for another post).
Finally, just turn off the television. Quit watching the news! I’ve had enough experience with news reporting to know you’re not getting all the facts and some of the rhetoric you are hearing isn’t accurate. All you need is about ten minutes worth of commentary to get the general idea. Sitting, listening, and watching the reports, pictures, and speculation all day long takes an emotional toll on the spectator. They’re paid to tell you the spectacular, horrific, and unbelievable. Limit the relentless media exposure for your own emotional well-being.
Newtown will never be the same as tragedy has altered a township for a generation. May our God’s grace permeate the hearts and lives of the many who so tragically suffered loss last week. May He grant strength for each hour and for each new day. He is good – even in the tragedy.