Sabbath peace, all.
“You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?”
At approximately 9:30 yesterday morning, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, dressed in black, shattered the glass by the doors of Sandy Hook Elementary School and, using two 9mm handguns, proceeded to take the lives of six adults and 20 schoolchildren—none of them older than ten years of age, and some as young as five. Lanza then turned his weapons on himself and ended his own life.
I won’t go into all the gruesome and distressing details. They are many, and you’ve no doubt heard of and read about them countless times already. Suffice it to say that this was the second-worst school shooting in the history of the United States. Suffice it to say that our society has degenerated to the point where a tragedy such as this ranks only as the second-worst in our history. Suffice it to say that, tonight and many nights for years to come, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers will be crying themselves to sleep over the actions of one madman—actions that ripped away the lives of their loved ones and shredded their futures to pieces.
That same day, President Obama gave a heartfelt, emotional speech before the nation, mourning that even the parents of the survivors knew that “their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.” He explained, “This evening, Michelle and I will…hug our children a little tighter and tell them that we love them. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight.”
And then, in closing, the president offered these words of consolation: “May God bless the memory of the victims, and in the words of Scripture, ‘Heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.’”
The scripture President Obama was referring to is Psalm 147, which tells us that God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:3-5). The same psalm goes on to reveal that “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 147:11).
As I said before, I’ve no desire to closely examine the harrowing details of this tragedy. I think by now that any of us who have been paying any attention at all to the news know them by heart. And if the tragic story of yet another bloody massacre—this time within an elementary school—cannot convince you on its own that our society is careening down a sickening path, then I will have no better luck in opening your eyes to it. So that’s not what I want to talk about right now.
I want to talk instead about God’s mercy. Such a topic, it seems, can’t possibly belong in the same breath as such a heartrending and senseless shooting—but I would argue that it must belong if we hope to find any solace in the face of such disaster.
We live in a world governed by the mindset that chose the tree of knowledge of good and evil over the tree of life—a world governed by the “way that seems right to a man” (Proverbs 14:12). Such a way of living has inevitably brought us closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. Every choice we make that conflicts with the natural laws God established brings us one step closer to our own destruction, and today we are peering over the ledge—and still walking.
Such a world that so plainly rejects God’s laws, designed to bring security and happiness and fullness of life, automatically brings upon itself the opposite—vulnerability, sorrow, and lives made empty. Because we as a nation, as a world, will not submit to God, we are facing the natural outcomes of lifestyles that bring us hardship rather than peace. We cannot place the blame on God for allowing such tragedies when our nation is one so insistent on removing Him from every aspect of our lives.
And yet, in spite of all this, His mercy remains. God, seated upon the throne from which He rules the universe, has not been blind to the sorrow and pain felt by so many yesterday morning. He has numbered the tears shed by every friend, every relative, every parent of those whose lives were so senselessly ended at Sandy Hook Elementary School. His heart, too, is rent with sadness at the atrocity.
We may rest assured of this: The precious lives of the adults and children who died December 14 are not and will never be forgotten before our Father in heaven.
One day, those eyes that were closed for the last time in this life will open again in a very different world. They won’t know it at first, but eventually they’ll learn that while they were asleep, mankind continued walking toward that cliff, never pausing. They’ll learn that we reached the edge and, without a thought, launched ourselves over it. And they’ll also learn that, just before we hit the ground—just before all our terrible decisions wiped us out from existence—God caught us. He caught us and forced us to look with newly opened eyes at the calamity we brought upon ourselves.
And then they’ll learn the most wonderful thing of all: That God did what no one else in the history of the world had ever managed to do—He fixed us. When we saw the end of doing right in our own eyes—when we saw how clearly we had destroyed ourselves—when we were forced to admit that our way doesn’t work, He taught us His. And for the first time since that terrible decision in the Garden of Eden, mankind found peace. They found prosperity. They found happiness. They found life as God has always intended for it to be.
And that’s when the children who died at Sandy Hook will come back into the story. It’s when God, in His infinite understanding, mighty power and unfailing mercy, will bring back to life every single man, woman and child who never had the chance to truly know Him or His way…and give them the chance to join His family.
Right now, there is sorrow. There is loss. There is pain and there is suffering, and there are no words to make those feelings go away.
But we have this promise: That when next those children who lost their lives at Sandy Hook open their eyes, they will find a world where “God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
May God speed that day!
Until next time,