It’s hard to come up with words to describe the pain and sorrow and confusion surrounding an event like yesterday. I’m posting some recommended resources to help those who want answers for how to cope in the aftermath of such a tragedy.
Russell Moore > “School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare”
Excerpt… “Throughout the history of the universe, evil has manifested a dark form of violence specifically toward children. Not only did the Canaanite nations demand the blood of babies, but the Bible shows where at points of redemptive crisis, the powers of evil have lashed out at children. Pharaoh saw God’s blessing of Israelite children as a curse and demanded they be snuffed out by the power of his armed thugs. And, of course, the Christmas narrative we read together this time of year is overshadowed by an act of horrific mass murder of children. King Herod, seeing his throne threatened, demands the slaughter of innocent children.”
John Piper> “How Does Jesus Come to Newtown?”
Excerpt… “The God who draws near to Newtown is the suffering, sympathetic God-man, Jesus Christ. No one else can feel what he has felt. No one else can love like he can love. No one else can heal like he can heal. No one else can save like he can save.”
John Piper > “A Lesson for All from Newtown”
Excerpt… “Murdering a human being is an assault on God. He made us in his own image. Destroying an image usually means you hate the imaged. Murdering God’s human image-bearer is not just murder. It’s treason — treason against the creator of the world. It is a capital crime — and more. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).”
Excerpt… “Pray for hurting families and broken communities that have had their children ripped from them. Pray for churches to minister to the hurting. Pray for people not to lose heart. And, yes, pray for Jesus to come back and set this broken world right.”
Jen Wilkin > “A Day for Hatred”
“There is no spin to put on a story like this. Yes, we will hear stories of heroism begin to emerge over the next hours, and they are stories we will need to hear. But there is no way to soften the blow.
Nor should we want to.
As a mother watching someone else’s horror play out on a screen, I want to feel this to the core of my being. I want it to inform my thoughts and actions in a way that leaves me changed. Because on days like today we learn just how broken sin has left us, just how bleak is our landscape without a Savior.”
Lord, we tremble, for we know
How the fierce malicious foe,
Wheeling round his watchful flight,
Keeps them ever in his sight:
Spread Thy pinions, King of kings!
Hide them safe beneath Thy wings;
Lest the ravenous bird of prey
Stoop and bear the brood away.
– William Cowper (1731-1800)
A prayer from Scott Smith, pastor of Christ Community Church of Franklin, TN (written the night of the tragedy)…
“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35
Dear Lord Jesus, we abandon ourselves to you tonight —we come running with our tears and our fears, our anger and our anguish, our lament and our longings. We collapse in your presence, with the assurance of your welcome, needing the mercies of your heart.
Some stories are just too much for us to absorb; some evil just too great to conceive; some losses beyond all measurability. We need your tears and your strength tonight. That you wept outside the tomb of a beloved friend frees us to groan and mourn; that you conquered his death with yours, frees us to hope and wait.
But we turn our thoughts from ourselves to the families who have suffered an unconscionable violation of heart and all sensibilities. Bring your presence to bear, Lord Jesus, by your Spirit and through your people. May your servants weep with those who weep and wail with those who wail. Extend your tear wiping hand—reach into this great tragedy with an even greater grace.
We cry out on behalf of the children of Newtown, those most directly affected by this evil, and for children throughout our country and the world, whose little hearts are reeling with fear and terror. Give parents wisdom and kindness, as they seek to love their children well, this night and in the coming days. Raise up gifted counselors and care givers to serve those most traumatized.
Lastly, Lord Jesus, we cry out with a loud voice, How long, O, Lord? How long before you return to eradicate all evil, redeem all tragedies, and make all things new? How long, O, Lord, how long? Your Bride weeps and waits for you. In your merciful and mighty name we pray.
Chris Brauns has a very helpful list of links regarding the role of forgiveness in human caused tragedies like the Newtown massacre.
Tim Keller answers the question:
We are commanded to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Matt. 22.37). And yet we find it hard to love God more than our own desires and the tangible people and things around us. What is the secret to loving God more? The answer is found in Luke 7.36-50 where a woman shows great love for Jesus by pouring expensive oil on his feet, washing his feet while she wept. Some present were repulsed because she was a woman of ill repute. Jesus used the moment as a teaching lesson, sharing a story about two debtors who were forgiven their debts, one more than the other.
When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” (Luke 7.42-43)
Jesus goes on to say that the woman loved much because she was forgiven much, and then states this truth in the opposite form: But he who is forgiven little, loves little (Luke 7.47b).
The secret to growing in your love for God is to grow in your understanding and appreciation for how much God has forgiven you.
What, after all, is the great secret of loving Christ? It is an inward sense of having received from Him pardon and forgiveness of sins. Those love much who feel much forgiven. He who has come to Christ with his sins, and tasted the blessedness of free and full absolution, he is the man whose heart will be full of love towards his Savior. The more we realize that Christ has suffered for us, and paid our debt to God, and that we are washed and justified through His blood, the more we shall love Him for having loved us, and given Himself for us.” – J. C. Ryle