Connecticut School Shooting: There is Hope in the Midst of Suffering
Jesus’ resurrection is divine reassurance for those lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
When I first heard the news about the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 27 individuals, including 20 elementary school students, dead, I was on my way to a Christianity Today staff Christmas luncheon. I didn't feel quite right celebrating at such a time as this until David Neff, CT’s former editor in chief, gave a brief message on the hope we have in Christ’s resurrection and everlasting love.
"Love is Christ's weapon against sin, death, and darkness," he said. Citing C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, he went on to say: "God's love is a sort of trickery against the forces of darkness, and is strong enough to reverse even death."
The truth of Christ's innocent death and the assurance of his proceeding resurrection gave me a renewed sense of hope for the victims and their families in Connecticut—hope for the children lost, hope for the shooter’s mother, slain at her son’s hand—even hope for the shooter himself. In the middle of the darkness, I was reminded that Jesus died for us even when we were his enemies—Romans 5:8 says so:
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
So as I read reports of death in The New York Times, hear stories of parents who have lost their little ones, and think of the darkness that encompassed the shooter in Connecticut Friday morning, I am reminded: evil is very much in charge of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). This tragedy was assurance that prayer is as important as ever, and I will continue to pray for Jesus’ kingdom to come at all times, in all occasions (Ephesians 6:18).
Today, as my heart is breaking for those affected by this tragedy, I’ll pray in the names of the children lost, and for the peace and comfort of the mourning mothers, fathers, and families who lost loved ones in the tragedy. God’s love may not reverse these deaths on Earth, but only he can bring new life to those affected by such evil. Won't you join me?
For helpful resources on mothers and friends who have endured loss and suffering, read the following TCW articles: “When We Don’t Understand;” “A Safe Place When You’ve Lost a Child;” and “A Time to Mourn.” Also see these TCW downloadable resources: “Why Do Bad Things Happen,” and “Transformation in the Midst of Suffering.”
Tomorrow night marks the fourth Christmas concert I have attended at Eastview Elementary School—my niece, Rachel, has a speaking role. I have three nieces and two nephews, so for years, concert attendance has been a family tradition. I’ve sat in rows of folding chairs countless times, intermittently cheering and waving at my sweet babies from the audience.
I’d thought about skipping tomorrow night’s performance—it’s an hour drive out, on a work night, and sometimes the commute feels like too much.
But Saturday night I got a text from my sister that changed all that.
“Hi family—in light of Friday’s events, there will be a required sign-in for everyone before Rach’s Christmas concert, so getting in may take a few extra minutes.”
Getting that text from my sister gave me pause. It made me realize that my nieces and nephew, with all their bright innocence and trust in the goodness of the world—aren’t safe. They live in a small town in the Midwest during a time of heightened security, with the reality of lockdown drills and SWAT team invasions. Safety, in its simplest form, is an illusion. It’s a feeble attempt to create a feeling of control in a world that is completely out of control.
Even in 2012, we are still completely dependent on our heavenly father. Friday’s events remind us that we have to treat each day with our loved ones like it could be our last.
And so today I will return to the Word of God with trembling and a sense of urgency that I should feel each day. I will beg for God’s protection over my loved ones, and pray for the grieving families in Connecticut who have experienced the worst loss imaginable. And tomorrow night, I will sit amongst my family with my five-year-old nephew, Micah, on my lap. I will hug him tightly and tell him I love him, and together we’ll cheer for Rachel and her fellow second grade classmates.
I will refuse to let this commonplace event lose its luster. If I’ve learned anything this week, it’s that every day I am able to celebrate the lives of my family members, I’m experiencing a miracle.
Connecticut, my heart and my prayers go out to you.
Ashley Moore is the editorial coordinator for Today's Christian Woman, GiftedforLeadership.com, and ChristianBibleStudies.com, and is also a contributing writer to the TCW blog. Follow Ashley on Twitter @ashgmoore.