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I am in the carpool line and scrolling through my Twitter and I see the word “school” and “shooter” and my stomach drops and it hasn’t stopped hurting now. I pick up my children and I can tell the teachers and principal of my school don’t know yet, because when something like this happens adults can connect by just looking at one another, and I know that they haven’t heard.
And then I think about praying and I am also really crying inside, mourning for the rip into our lives that this creates, the searing, ugly, tearing wound of evil, and the hurt and tragedy of the fact that we have disregarded hurting people and ignored so much of the pain and hurt in our world, and that we are a hurting, isolated people who so need love and forgiveness and healing.
There are some things that I want to tell you, my friends, because I know that in times like this we look around and wonder what to do next, and mostly I don’t know, but here’s what I do know:
You need to let your children believe in God.
Even if you wrestle with the whole concept, and if it makes your head hurt to think about evolution and exclusivity and is Jesus the only way, and even if you wrestle with if the Bible is historically accurate or if God performs miracles, here’s one thing that no one, not any one person, can deny: the existence of evil.
Evil is real and I am begging you to face the reality. We are not raising our children in a Dora the Explorer make-believe land, and they can feel that. We cannot protect them from everything, and they can feel that. We are not enough. And they can feel that. If you make yourself the highest protection for your child, then what will you tell them when they ask about school shootings? About movie theater shootings? About car accidents and natural disasters and fires?
We cannot have them within arm's length at all times. They grow and they flutter their wings and they strain to fly because that’s what they are supposed to do. And so when God describes himself as a great daddy bird that lets us hide in the shadow of his wing, this great Lion who reigns and roars, this great I AM who exists outside and inside and around our reality and invites us to eternity, this one that guides and protects and is over all, even this tragedy, we must let our children believe in that God.
Without heaven, death is despair. Without eternity, the end of our time on earth is the dark, deep end. And without souls, we are merely animals. And so school shootings happen because pain and evil and suffering are real, and there is nothing scarier than a person who has disregarded human life, who has been so hurt by life that they have been caught up in the snare of evil, and darkness has won in their life but it doesn’t have to win in ours by staying indifferent to the reality.
I want my children to never feel alone, even when I am not with them. I believe in God because I have wrestled long and hard with the questions of life, of evil and pain and suffering and forgiveness. And I believe that this story only makes sense with Him in it.
So I'm asking you to give your children a narrative. Give them a framework for understanding good and evil and life and death. Do the best you can, even if it feels awkward or hard. I think we all know that these “days are evil” as Paul said to the church at Ephesus many years ago. Would you pray with me?
God of all comfort, we come before you with humble, silent hearts. You gave us tears so that we can mourn and we cry out for you to pour out your loving, warm light on the many so deeply affected today by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. For those who lost children today, would you gather them to you, for you promise that “those who mourn will be comforted.” For the children who have been traumatized by these experiences, would your healing light penetrate their souls and speak deeply into them, about the truth of the protection of their spirits and the reality of heaven. For the family of the shooter, we ask you to draw them close to you. And we thank you, God, that you are a God who remembers, you are a God of justice, and that evil will not have the final word in this earth, and that no matter what happens to us, our souls find rest in you, and they are secure in you. Help us to turn back to you as a nation, to take action to protect those who are suffering in their minds and souls, and that we would not “be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with love.” (Romans 12:21).
"A destruction, an annihilation only man can provoke, only man can prevent." –Elie Wiesel
This article originally appeared at www.nicoleunice.com. Used with permission.
Nicole Unice is the author of She's Got Issues, and blogs at www.nicoleunice.com. Part Bible teacher, part community organizer, part busy mom, Nicole has the uncanny ability to relate to people in all ages and stages of life with her “keeping it real” approach to ordering a life around God’s word. Nicole received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the College of William and Mary and her masters in Christian Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. You can also learn more about Nicole at www.hopecentral.com.
Publication date: December 15, 2012