“They look like ours,” I said to my husband Doug as I was looking at the small faces pictured online of the beautiful children killed in the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut a few days ago. “They look like our kids.” My heart sank thinking of the parents sitting at home on this night longing for their children.
What can we do for them? What can we do for the family members of the adults who heroically died saving children’s lives? What can we do for those who have seen this crime take place? What can we do for those that were first responders who have images in their mind of this incredible atrocity? What can we do?
We can’t make sense out of senseless.
I was on Facebook this past Friday reading people’s thoughts about the massacre. I read a conversation between two young adult men that went something like this. The first man posted, “Let us pray for these families.” His “friend” replied and said, “Forget praying. Send these people some money. They don’t need your prayers; they need money for funeral costs.” The first young man replied back, “Just because you don’t believe in God, don’t come on my post and slam me for telling people to pray.” And, then they kept bantering.
I thought about their exchange and it actually kept me up that night thinking. It caused me to remember when I found myself in a traumatic situation where my life got turned upside down in a matter of unforeseeable minutes. I remembered back two years ago when I almost left my husband and two children behind when I suffered an amniotic fluid embolism where I died for ten minutes. I woke up from the incident feeling so much closer to death than life. Not knowing if I would have the will to survive because of how much went wrong and how poor my health was. People responded to me in many ways. Some sent money and I remember my heart being warmed by their generosity. The money helped us in our time of financial need, but it did not get me out of bed in the morning. Although it was an amazing gift, it was not the thing that gave me the strength to survive.
What got me out of bed in the mornings when I was depressed, when I was in pain, and when I felt hopeless was the outpouring of prayers. I would constantly think of people praying for me and I would remember their words and that was where I found solace and hope. The abundance of prayers infused strength in me.
My friend Francesca who writes the blog For the Cause of Love (www.forthecauseoflove.blogspot.com) lost her five-year-old daughter tragically and unexpectedly a few years ago. Her sweet girl had the flu and went to take a nap never to wake again. It was unthinkable! It was heartbreaking! We were able to raise money for funeral costs and for her family. I think she would agree that the money was an incredible blessing to her family, but if you read Francesca’s blog, you will see it is prayer that gets her out of bed in the morning. It is trust in God that gives her hope and even joy in the midst of her unquenchable, unfathomable pain.
Will prayer solve this tragic outcome? Probably not. It won’t bring those innocent children and brave adults back. But, prayer is the place where Christ meets us in the middle of our suffering and becomes our strength when we are weak. Scripture tells us that as we become weaker, Christ becomes stronger.
All I know from my own experience of dying for ten minutes is that God is real! Heaven is real and God is love! God can bring us from the depths of darkness, depression, sadness, anger, hatred, and anxiety and bring us into the light. And, every word of prayer whispered, God hears!
Scripture tells us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Let us continue to unite as so many have already done by offering vigils and prayers to comfort those who are mourning right now. We will never understand why God permits tragedy to happen, but in the words of my friend Angela who recently passed away from cancer leaving two children and her husband behind, “Jesus still rose, so I will trust.”
I hope we all send money, food, and any supplies this community needs, but even more I hope we devote ourselves to prayer. It may just be the thing that gets those affected by this crime out of bed in the morning to get their other children fed and clothed for the day, or that gives them strength for that moment in the day when they just want to fall apart or curl into a ball and hide. It may be the thing they need to encourage them to hope, to believe, and to trust. Let us not be distracted by politics, media, or God-less friends from being courageous and humble enough to beg for prayers and to get on our knees and plead for Christ to comfort the countless souls in mourning because of this injustice.
To those in Newtown who have lost a child, a daughter or a son, a wife or a husband, a sister or a brother, a mom or a dad, or those who had to see this crime scene as first responders, know that I am praying for you and my heart aches for you. Know that many in this country are uniting with you in your pain and suffering and offering our hearts to you.
For those reading this blog, I encourage you to leave a prayer in the comments and I will post them. Let’s cover those who are suffering with our love and prayers!
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Romans 8: 38-39