This is my primal, belly-deep cry as we reel from the news of another mass killing—this one perpetrated against the youngest, the most innocent. My brain races with a thousand thoughts; my heart hurts for the parents and kids; my soul asks the same questions yours does.
But my gut, it hollers. It begs. No more. No more.
Another gunman, shrouded in a bulletproof vest and armed with multiple guns, made news this morning. He walked into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and opened fire. By the time he took his own life, at least 27 others were either dead or dying—20 of them children. A tragedy, we say.
But we’ve used that word so often in the last few years that it doesn’t seem to be enough. It can’t convey the anguish and desolation felt in Newtown tonight. Tragedy is too weak a word now.
And I wonder … what were these children thinking about, talking about, five minutes before? Were they counting down the minutes ‘til Christmas vacation? Were they debating what to do at recess? Were they contemplating a mystery gift—a wrapped box underneath the tree—that they couldn’t wait to find out what it was?
Yesterday, I wrote of the infinite, that sense of promise and potential that youth feel so mightily at times. This evening, those words haunt me: For 20 children, that promise and potential was silenced. Twenty children found true infinite too soon.
We grieve now. As parents and children ourselves—no matter how distant we are from Connecticut, we grieve. We pray for the survivors, for the hurting parents, maybe the whole country. Perhaps, we try to console … if not those in Newtown, then at least ourselves. As Christians, perhaps, we try to offer what comfort we can. We remind (ourselves?) that God is with us in even these moments. That He feels our pain more sharply than we can imagine. That, even now, even in this, God is in control. That, perhaps even now, He embraces these little children and walks them into His eternal country.
I believe it. I believe it all. I believe that God can work through even the worst of moments. I’ve written so in the past—back when Aurora was the tragedy.
Less than five months ago.
It’s comforting to know, I suppose, that the Psalmists walked through moments and months like this, where the world seemed sick to the soul and the poets begged for relief.
My heart is in anguish within me
The terrors of death assail me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
Horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
Far from the tempest and storm.
And at the end of these anguished cries, the concluding lines are often the same. In Psalm 55, the last line is very simple: “But as for me, I trust in you.”
We hurt. We cry out. We long for the world to be made well—or, barring that, just better. Just saner. Just keep the killers from our children. Just keep the wolves from our door.
But God makes no promises. And so we walk on in the pit of tragedy, under the shadow of death. And in the end, all we can do is trust. That God will walk with us. That God, no matter what comes, is with us and cares for us and is, in his sometimes inexplicable way, leading us Home.