This morning several homes are emptier than they were just a day before. There are less than two weeks left before Christmas and presents sit under trees that will never be opened by the little hands they were intended for. A great tragedy has come among us. Yesterday, our nation watched as the horror unfolded. In Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a lone gunman opened fire on faculty and students, killing 26 people, with 20 of those being children ranging from five to ten years of age. Prior to going to the school, gunman, Adam Lanza, murdered his own mother. Following the rampage, Lanza turned the gun on himself, committing suicide and raising the death toll to 28, making this the second deadliest school shooting in our country’s history, exceeded by the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007, which took 33 lives.
A brief scan of news reports and social media portray a cacophony of emotions, questions, accusations, and frustrations. We ask, “who could do such a thing?”, “why would someone do such a thing?”, and “how could this happen?”, seeking clarity in a time of great confusion. Many answers have been given to these questions. Some have been helpful, others polarizing, but each lacks the comfort we seek - a comfort outside of ourselves and mankind. Don’t get me wrong, those answers are needed and can be helpful to a degree but they will not ultimately comfort us or those directly involved. So, how are we to respond biblically, as God’s people, to such a heinously inconceivable event such as this?
Let me suggest a few, though not exhaustive, responses that will bring comfort to us and others as well as honor God.
One way we are to biblically respond to the lives stolen away in this murderous attack is for us to mourn. Break down and cry, empathize with the broken families, hug your own children or spouses, and feel the burden of pain and loss. When we mourn we acknowledge that this is not how it is supposed to be. The pain, the sorrow, and the loss are all aspects of a sin cursed world that do not please us nor do they please God. We are right to weep and we are right to mourn. Also, when we mourn, we imitate Jesus Christ. Though clearly different circumstances, Jesus wept with others at the loss of Lazarus. John 11:32-35 says, “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.” Christ did not weep because their was no hope or comfort for them but he sought to show compassion, as a sympathetic high priest, that we would follow in his footsteps. Colossians 3:12 declares, “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts.” When death, suffering, or a tragedy occurs we are to mourn with those who are mourning, for in doing so we acknowledge that this is not how it is supposed to be, we imitate our Lord, and we, as those who have been shown compassion and by God's grace, show compassion to the hurting.