As far as I know, I have no direct ties to anyone involved with the school shooting in Connecticut this morning. No siblings, cousins, or even second cousins. And yet my heart sunk when I read the horrifying news that twenty children were murdered while at school. I was working when I read it, so I didn’t quite have the time to really process what had happened, though it was on my mind. Now that I’m home from work, my emotions are swirling.
A couple years ago, I was a regular Sunday school teacher. It’s not the same as an actual school teacher who spends four or five days a week with these children and invests deep emotional attachments to each of them. I only taught every other Sunday with the occasional two weeks in a row. Even still, in that time I grew to love those kids. Their faces came to mind when I took the time to process the events in Connecticut. Sorrow and anger were the only emotions I could feel for a moment. I cannot imagine having to endure such heartache and pain as the families affected by this morning’s tragedy.
I use the word “anger,” but quite frankly, it was more like rage. I wanted to be violent in return to the violence caused this morning and Tuesday afternoon in Clackamas. I wanted one more person to try shooting up where I work, where I shop, or even where I went to school. And I wanted to be there when it happened.
Why did I want all of this? Because, I must confess, I wanted to violently stop those who wish to bring violence to innocent people. Shootings in theaters, temples, and malls are horrendous and terribly tragic, but shooting small children strikes a deep, deep nerve. Although I’m not a father, I would protect any of those children I taught in Sunday school – or really any children in general – as my own… even if it meant physically stopping and/or harming the one with a gun, knife, or even their own hands.
I must highlight the fact that this is how I feel when children are harmed. I cannot tell you whether it’s right or wrong to feel this way, but I can tell you that Jesus did not mess around when it came to protecting children:
“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin,” – Luke 17:2
If he felt this way about misleading children in the way they should go, imagine how He feels about children being directly harmed. Jesus declared the kingdom of God, the very kingdom He was ushering in, belonged to children (Luke 18:16). In essence, if one harms them, then one harms the heirs to God’s kingdom. Given how widows and orphans are held closely to God’s heart, it seems clear to me that God feels anger toward those who’ve harmed His little ones.
Watching President Obama speak about the events in Connecticut, I felt the tears swell. Hearing stories of parents falling on the floor, yelling, screaming, and weeping at the news their little one was gone, I can’t help but feel sorrow for their loss. It breaks my heart to picture these parents on the ground weeping and simply being inconsolable. No one, American or not, should ever have to suffer that pain.
With one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, talks have already turned to gun control and helping those with mental illnesses. I have received little to no education at all regarding these subjects, but one subject I have come to know quite while is the human condition. Not only have I had the privilege of being around people who call sin for sin even if it’s within themselves, but I’ve learned through the Scriptures that there is a very real and strong presence of evil within this world. And I personally believe that it operates like a person. Consider, again, the words of Jesus:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” – John 10:10.
Whoever this “thief” is (call him “Satan,” call him “bad Karma,” whatever), it is clear that he has bad intentions. This is why Paul declares not to even give this person a foothold, “Do not give the devil a foothold,” – Ephesians 4:27. The ESV has “opportunity” instead of “foothold,” but the idea is the same: If you give evil but a small portion, it will destroy much, if not all.
In no way does this dismiss the actions of the shooter this morning (or any workers of evil); God sees the depth of their sin and will judge accordingly (and far better than I would). I only point out Satan’s intentions because I am tired of trying to deal with this lightly. I’m tired of looking upon this presence of pure evil and not acknowledging it for what (or who) it is. It’s as though I’m dressed in the armor described in Ephesians 6, but doing nothing with it.
I’m sorry if all of what’s written here seems scattered, but like I said before, my emotions have been scattered and swirling all day. That, and I’m running on two hours of sleep (saw the opening show of The Hobbit – highly recommend it). What I hope to have gotten across is that the pain and anger we feel in response to children being murdered is righteous, but it must be used in a right way. Eliminating guns or dealing more actively with mental health issues will help, but they are not the entire issue. Resistance to evil, no matter how big or small, is the issue.
Tonight, pray for those who are inconsolable. Mourn for what they must endure. Mourn for the children who survived this morning and for what they’re forced to suffer and endure for the rest of their lives. Weep for them. Be active in the kingdom of God for the kingdom of God by praying for the parents without their children and the children without their parent(s).
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” – John 10:10 (emphasis added)
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” – Matthew 16:18 (emphasis added)
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” – Ephesians 6:12 (emphasis added)
“What are we holding onto, Sam?” – Frodo
“That there’s some good in this world… and it’s worth fighting for!” – Sam, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Please pray for the families of the victims, the survivors, and even the perpetrator (his family lost at least two people today).