Things are not always as they appear. Sometimes, appearances can be very deceiving. That was true the day the knock came on the mirror and the horror that came with realizing that somebody would have to answer.
The preceding days held nothing ominous. If there had been an inkling of an idea that something was amiss, then I would have done everything in my power to prevent things from happening. But then again, in hindsight, I am not sure that I would. Changing the inevitable does not always bring a modicum of joy or happiness. Getting our way would actually be a miserable existence.
The actual morning dawned. As usual, it was beautiful. The sun rose around the world, but by nightfall things would be very different. The problem was that I knew about the mirror but I was too young and naïve to think that it could ever affect me.
Preparing for work, I began to feel some odd twinges, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Opening the door, I said goodbye to the family but was stopped when the phone rang. It was not unexpected and I was in no hurry, so I answered. In my mind, I think I knew before I responded, but the mirror glared back at me. I dropped my gaze first as I listened to the voice on the other end.
“Hello, I need you to meet me at the hospital. There is nothing to worry about, but I would be quick just in case.”
To this day, I cannot remember whether I responded in a courteous fashion or not. The caller informed me though that they would be there waiting for me. What I can recall is exceeding the speed limit on several major roads. A trip that should have taken about 15 minutes, I made in less than 10 with change to spare.
Only one ambulance was in the bay as I ran through the doors marked EMERGENCY. All decorum was absent as I blindly stumbled to the nurse’s station. As I approached the desk, one of my senses did not fail me. My hearing has always been excellent and today was no exception.
I introduced myself to the nurses and I noticed them looking oddly at each other when I gave my name. One of them stood to her feet and asked me to come and wait for the doctor to finish. As soon as he was free, he would come and let me know what was happening. Sitting down in the waiting room, nothing seemed out of the ordinary except for the mirrored glass that covered almost one entire wall.
After what seemed like an eternity, I grew impatient. Standing to my feet, I opened the door of the waiting room and went back to the nurses’ station.
“Hi, I am sure the doctor is busy, but I would really like some information. May I just go back to the examination room?”
“Sir, we just got word from the doctor and he said he should be up to speak with you in just a matter of minutes. Please wait for him in the room.”
Walking slowly back to the room, I opened the door and stepped in. Closing it back behind me, something back to nag at me as I stared at my dim reflection in the mirrored glass.
When time stands still, it is impossible to give an accurate description of a timeline. In my case, the next few minutes took another eternity while I pondered my location. As soon as my mind went through a myriad of possible computations, I came to a stark conclusion.
First, there was nobody in the room with me. There were always people in the Emergency Room. Not but a couple of weeks before, I had brought one of my children to the same hospital because they had fallen out of bed and split their head open requiring stitches.
Second, this waiting room had a door on it and while I had seen several people walk by who were not staff members, nobody had entered my waiting room.
Third, just as my brain realized that I was clearly in the wrong room, the doctor entered with another individual by his side. It was an older woman and she did not have a lab coat on. In fact, the only thing that I could focus on was the lapels of her jacket. Both lapels held a small, almost inconspicuous piece of jewelry that had been fashioned in the shape of a cross.
The doctor sat down at my left hand and the woman with the emblem on her lapels sat immediately to my right. Neither of them sat back in leisure, but were on the edge of their seats looking at me.
The room began to spin and I realized that my heart was not prepared for what the doctor began to say.
“Sir, I am sorry, but there was nothing we could do! We tried everything, but your brother is gone!”
That beautiful morning turned black. I knew that a knock from the other side of eternity had taken my brother from what C.S. Lewis called the Shadowlands of earth into the brightness of heaven where there is no night, no tears, and no death.
Each taking a hand, they walked me back to the exam room. My heart still aches as I remember looking down on the still face of my 22 year old brother, John. The pictures will always be in my mind of that day along with the torture of the funeral preparations. He was my best friend. No friends, no co-workers, and no family had yet joined me, and I felt more alone than I have done at just about any other point in my life.
Unbeknownst to us, he had developed a virus in his heart. Less than a year after getting out of the military with a clean bill of health, his heart had simply exploded. We later learned the EMTs were already in the building just about six or seven steps away. Ironically, they had taken over helping a lady who was having an angina attack.
The only first aid certified individual in her office had been my brother. Giving the care over to the EMT staff, he had turned and walked over to his desk, sat down, and fallen over dead.
Somehow, I managed to go back to my home. It was my responsibility to bear the brunt of the emotions as I called my parents who lived overseas. I called my brothers and sisters and informed them in different parts of the country, but nothing would change the fact that eternity had come calling for my brother, and he had answered.
I would have to say that I would not want him to have to come back to this world of misery and woe. The land where he lives is a land beyond compare and he did not have to grow old while dealing with sickness and pain. As I look from this side of the mirror, I realize that there are shadows on the other side. At my age, they are growing closer now than they were 23 years ago when my brother was called.
Sadly, we can only see glimpses every now and then of the joys that lie beyond this mortal pale. One day, we too will hear a clear, distinct knock. However, when the knock comes for us, it will actually open and the door will be a welcome intrusion. For those we leave behind, they will mourn, but one day, they will be able to join us on the other side. We will see clearly and realize that our journey was designed to take us from the shadows into the most incredible clarity that we cannot currently imagine.
The thought of seeing what is on the other side is not as scary as it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago. There are times the unknown reflects back to us in ways we cannot comprehend. We know there is something there, but all we see is our own reflection. For now I must go, but I am trying to prepare harder for the knock on the mirror. Whether I like it or not, it is coming. I will be ready.
1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…”(ESV)
As we grow older, life does not get any easier. Not only do we find ourselves concerned about the regular cares of the world, but now we have children and grandchildren that must be taken into account. In the midst of a world that is rocked with scandal, pain, wars, and turmoil, it is so easy to find ourselves distracted and overwhelmed by the world. It seems that our little lives can also be torn apart with strife in our families. These times simply show that we are fallen creatures of clay who have been saved by grace.
Our desires should not be for this world but to realize we are just passing through. Soon enough will come a day where like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, we will dip our feet in the waters of death as we prepare to go to the other side where we will be forever with our Lord and those saints who have gone before. What a glorious day that will be.
Although the pain in our hearts is very real, there are many who have suffered much more than most of us will ever experience. Such a person was Horatio Spafford, who wrote the words to a well-loved hymn called, “It is Well With My Soul.” This man suffered greatly with the loss of four children at once through the sinking of a ship that was enroute across the Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful hymn was written by Spafford as he journeyed to meet his wife in Europe on the next ship. Crossing over the spot where the ship entombing his daughters was, Spafford, with the strength of the Lord, wrote with full assurance in the God of his salvation that “It was well with his soul.”
No matter what struggles or pain you and I may endure today, there will always be a peace that passes all understanding. Only those who rejoice in Jesus Christ and know Him as personal Savior can reiterate with Paul that there is nothing in life or death that can separate us from the love of God.
Family and friends may forsake us and foes may assail us, but His love will endure forever. I am thankful that today I can ask with the Psalmist in 116:15, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD.”
For those who remain friends, you are a blessing and an encouragement. May you be encouraged with the words of these two hymns today.
There is a great deal of words that have been written about the suicide of a recent celebrity. This blog does not intend to readdress this sad loss for his family and friends. The fact is that depression has seen another life go out into eternity. However, before I address the question at hand, I do want to make a few preliminary comments.
1) Eternity is real and each one of us will face that reality. The Scriptures remind us that “as it is appointed unto man once to die and after this will come the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). This means that no matter when we die or how we die, we will stand before God. He alone is the Judge of man.
While we can make judgment calls against another, the truth is that the Bible does give us the answer to what will happen next after death. It is our responsibility to tell others the dangers of what will come. There are only two choices. If our salvation is placed by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, then His Holy Spirit will have brought us to the point of repentance and we become a new creation in Christ Jesus. If not, then the price that will be paid is eternal damnation apart from Christ.
2) It is a sad day when people get angry when a subject matter like suicide is spoken about. People tend to follow their emotions rather than the dictates of a clear conscience. What is worse is when Christians become so divisive that the world cannot clearly see Jesus Christ working in and through us. He alone is our hope and our guide, and it is to His Word that we must seek to find our answers.
3) This post is not intended to denigrate the reality of suicide, nor the causes of what brings a person to suicide. Further, it is not meant to belittle the pain of what a family goes through when suicide has been committed. Death is a tragic part of life but it is because of the fall in the Garden of Eden that death is a reality.
4) Suicide is a reality in just about every culture around the world. The church should be stepping up with help instead of hiding behind rocks and pretending it does not happen. Sadly, pastors are not prepared to offer help, guidance, and counsel because many do not have a solid view of Biblical principles. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that the Scriptures are good for all that pertains to life and godliness. Therefore, we must correctly believe that depression and suicide can be addressed from a biblical perspective.
Now, let me address suicide and it is our desire to do so from a Biblical perspective. Tragically, there is a great deal of misunderstanding among true believers about the matter of suicide. While I do not expect our readers to totally agree with me, it is my prayer that you will give my thoughts prayerful consideration. I do not want needless rants, but you are welcome to comment or share your thoughts. As always, we ask that if you do so that you follow our rules of engagement.
1) Suicide is mentioned in the Bible. We are told of seven different people who took their own lives(Judges 9:54; 16:29-31; 1 Sam. 31:3-6; 2 Sam. 17:23; 1 Kings 16:18; and Matt. 27:5). Of course, the two most famous were King Saul in the Old Testament and then Judas Iscariot in the New Testament. The why and how is not relevant to this blog post.
2) Any time that we act in a manner that is contrary to what God desires, it is sin. Therefore, we must conclude that suicide is sin. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and suicide is not a step of faith.
3) Because suicide is a sin, we must address what the Bible says about sin. Sin is a reality of the Fall. We are fallen creatures and our hearts and minds are totally set in contradiction to the holiness of God, unless we have been made a new creation in Christ.
4) Sadly, in the church, we have become very adept at classifying our sin according to our own perspectives instead of how God sees sin. It has become far too fashionable in Christendom to categorize sin into certain tiers. Lying on your tax return is not as bad as adultery. Lying to your kids about Santa Claus is not as bad as the couple who got divorced and remarried. Hating somebody who writes a blog is not as bad as the person who actually took their own life.
The biblical answer to life is that we must turn to Jesus Christ. We must see sin as He does and the penalty that must be endured for that sin. If He paid it all, then it is all to Him I owe because sin had left a crimson stain, but He washed it white as snow. The sobering alternative is that those who reject Christ will pay the ultimate penalty in everlasting punishment.
5) Thus we must address another question. Can a murderer become a true believer in Christ? Further, can a true believer who takes his or her eyes off Christ respond in anger in such a way that murder is the result? Let’s go further. Christ said that if we even have hatred in our hearts, it is the same as murder.
If we had the opportunity to speak to somebody on death row, do we share with them the truth of God’s Word and His grace and forgiveness offered freely to all who will believe, or do we ask them first what type of murder they perpetrated and how they did it? Of course, any true bearer of good news would share the reality of grace and what Christ paid so we would not have to suffer the wrath of God the Father.
So, in order to share this truth we must ask another question. Is the sin of murder one of the sins that nailed Christ to the cross? The answer is unquestionably yes it was. Although, suicide is considered by many to be self-murder, it is still sin and it was still a sin nailed to the cross of Christ for all who believe.
6) Logically, we must then ask two more questions. 1) Can a person who is a Christian commit suicide? 2) Will a person who commits suicide go to heaven when they die?
The answer to both of these lay in what Christ did and not in what we have done, nor in what we deserve. Christ died for our sins almost 2,000 years ago and that means that all of our sins were in His future. Further, from before the foundations of the world, God set His love upon all who would believe and who would be brought to repent and confess their sin. This means that if you have ever truly come to Christ, every sin you have ever committed was PAID IN FULL on the cross of Calvary.
We have biblical injunction to assume that we can ever undo the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When He cried, “It is finished”, he meant that it was finished for all time. There would never be the need for another sacrifice for all who come by grace through faith alone to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This is important to correctly understand. A person who is TRULY a new creation in Christ cannot uncreate what God has created.
While I believe in eternal security of the believer, I do NOT believe that a person can do what they want, when they want, and remain in that sin if they are a true believer. If they are a brand new creation, they will be changed into the image of Jesus Christ. However, this does not mean that we cannot succumb to a particular sin with the exception of unbelief. I do not find any leeway in Scripture that shows a person who belongs to Christ can truly come to the point of unbelief in the saving work of Christ. This means that a person can be discouraged or in complete despair of their situation, but that never negates what Christ accomplished on Calvary.
7) The only sin that will ever take a person to hell is the sin of unbelief. God will not bring down the hammer of condemnation because a person is a drunkard, or a cheater, or a liar, or an adulterer, or even a murderer. Nobody will ever be able to say that God is unfair and He does not judge rightly, and the ultimate sin that brings that condemnation will be the rejection of Jesus Christ. Suicide is not a rejection of Jesus Christ, but a rejection of the life and circumstances that God has sovereignly placed in my path. Thus, if a person chooses to end their life, they have sinned but not a sin that I believe brings damnation to hell.
Let us consider a few more thoughts about suicide.
1) More times than not, suicide is the end result of depression. While we could address depression at length, let it be sufficient to say that one of the results of the fall is that our mind is not what God originally designed and created. DNA does not grow better, but it decreases with each person that is born.
This means there is a Biblical reason for mental illnesses no matter what kind it is. Our understanding of mental illness can often be skewed because we (the church) too often looks to worldly psychology instead of to the Word of God for appropriate answers.
2) Suicide is never to be an option. It is the ultimate act of selfishness against God and against those we love. Speak to a family who has gone through this and you will see the pain, grief, and shame that never goes away. Speak to the police officers, EMT workers, and funeral workers that grieve alone after the work of dealing with a suicide has been finished. Speak to the pastors and church members who struggle to know how to help a family pick up the pieces of the puzzle that have been irreversibly shattered.
3) The two greatest commandments given by Jesus Christ reiterate all that is found in the law and the prophets. First, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Second, we must love our neighbor as ourselves. There is not a third command that we must learn to love ourselves. It is automatically assumed and we do that very well.
By this simple understanding of the law, it is easy to follow that doing anything in our life that does not reflect these two commands must be sin and the result of sin. Therefore, because it does not reflect a love for God or for our neighbor, suicide is sin no matter why it is done.
So, what is the answer we can present to others or how do we help those who are weak in mind and body?
1) Suicidal thoughts can inhabit the mind, but Romans 12 reminds us that we are to renew our minds by being transformed. To be transformed, we cannot conform to the standards and precepts of the world. Further, in order to keep from conforming to the world, we must present our bodies a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to Jesus Christ.
2) The church needs to wake up to the reality that people’s mind are not being renewed. Thus, the church and pastors are failing to help provide care and love to those who are depressed or suffering from ailments that are the end result of the Fall. We must love those who are in our midst and recognize that it is not drugs that will give them freedom. It is not self-help or self-awareness classes that will bring ultimate relief. It is Jesus Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith and it is to Him that we must point others who are helpless and hopeless.
3) When tragedy strikes within the ranks of true believers, the true Church must be willing to render prayer and loving support. We must follow the dictates of Galatians 6 and help to bear one another’s burdens, for in so doing, we fulfill the law of Christ.
4) It is not up to us to second-guess what the state of a person’s mind may or may not have been when they took their own life. Only God knows both their heart and their mind. While we do not condone this or any other sin, we must use this to reinforce the reality of Christ and what He has done so that we will ultimately be free from the ravages of all sin.
5) In almost 8 years in the funeral industry, I also served as a chaplain in four different funeral homes. I conducted 272 funerals. I only knew two of these individuals. It was not my responsibility to preach people into hell who did not belong there, nor did I preach anybody into heaven who had not been forgiven for their sins. That was the responsibility of the Judge of the Universe. However, in times of grief, I was able to share the truths that I did here in this post. There is room at the cross for all who will but come and plead to God for mercy.
A passage to consider is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” On the surface, this paints a very bad picture for anybody who has practiced or indulged in such sins.
But Paul gives hope to the reader in the very next verse 11, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This is worth rejoicing over. Such people who committed such sins have been washed, sanctified, and justified. The power of salvation is not based on us or our reactions to emotions, feelings, or circumstances. As Jonah stated, Salvation belongs unto God. It is of Him, through Him, and because of Him alone.
We want to make one thing abundantly clear. This blog post, nor my beliefs, are to be construed in any way that a person is free to take their own lives when God allows them to go through turmoil and discouragement. I am NOT, nor would I ever say that. Suicide is ALWAYS wrong and is always sin. The power of life and death must be left in the hands of God alone. Despair can bring a person to make decisions that are regrettable.
While I do believe a true believer may come to the point where they despair completely of life and choose to end that life, I also believe that such an action would bring loss of reward when standing before God. Ultimately, we must see our lives as Job did when his world crashed down around him in Job 23:10, “When he has tried me, I will come forth as gold.”
Suicide happens and will continue to happen because we are fallen creatures in a fallen world. Until Satan is completely destroyed and all things are made right, sin will reign in the hearts and lives of individuals all around the world. However, we are assured that by His death, burial, and resurrection that Christ is the ultimate victor over death, hell, sin, and the grave.
May our hearts be filled with love and understanding toward those who are hurting. May we not make assumptions about what the Scriptures give us no leeway to make. May we show Christ to a world that is in utter darkness. May we be a light to that dark world so that those in the world will see God in our lives and will ultimately glorify our Father who is in heaven.
May we have compassion and grace toward what we do not, may not, or cannot comprehend. And finally, may we be ever thankful for the forgiveness that is offered by Christ to all who will come by faith and realize that if it was not for grace – many of us would find ourselves doomed and lost in hell.
I want to conclude with one final thought. If you are considering taking your life, seek out somebody who knows and loves Christ. Don’t look to somebody who has no answers or wants to fill your head with the Oprah Winfrey or Joel Osteen type of drivel that sends people to hell. Let them share with you the joy that comes from being found in Christ alone. There is life after despair. There is hope after discouragement. There is love where you may only know hate.
Last week, a terrible tragedy struck in two homes just a stone’s throw from my own house. As of the writing of this article, one man is currently in custody on nineteen criminal charges, including the murder of five people. When I first heard of this terrible crime, my first thought, in fact my overriding thought the entire week, has been for the safety of my family. While that is a right and good thing to be concerned for, I have to confess, I have given little thought to the soul of the man who committed the murders. I have given thought to his crime, to the court system that will soon try and likely convict him, and the to application of justice against one who would harm innocent victims in this manner. Yet, at a time like this, I believe it is right that, as Christians, we should very concerned about the judgment of God which rests on the soul of this man.
A similar tragedy occurred less than two years ago in another city near my home when a man entered a restaurant and opened fire. Several people were hurt and killed, including three National Guard soldiers. In the wake of that tragedy, a man had responded to an online news article by stating he hoped the murderer would never be forgiven by God and would forever burn in hell. The anger in that statement shook me to the core. It is right for us to feel a righteous anger at the unjust murder of any person. But for someone to wish the eternal, conscious torment of Hell on a person startled me. I believe the author of that comment did not understand his own sinfulness and the necessity of God’s justice to be applied against himself one day. Had he understood the righteousness and holiness of God, he would have seen his own anger and hatred for what it was, a sin against the God who he wished would cause the murder to be eternally condemned. I wrote my thoughts on that tragedy then, asking those who profess Christ as Lord to consider our reactions to such terrible crimes and to pray for those who commit them.
I want to be careful not to simply repeat what I wrote then; however, certain themes and principles bear repetition. When I heard of the horrendous nature of this crime, I could not help but feel anger at the loss of life and pouring of such evil near my home. Yet, according the word of God, all of us are wicked in the eyes of God. Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Every person in this world possesses a heart of wickedness, born under the curse of the original sin of our federal representative, Adam. When he rebelled against God in the garden, all of Adam’s descendants were forever tainted with sin. Thus, all that we can conceive of and do is affected by our self serving, sinful nature. Nothing we can do of ourselves will ever be “good.”
In fact, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3: 9-18:
“What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.
The venom of asps is under their lips.
Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Quoting from the Psalms, Paul makes the case that there is nothing about us that is good in the eyes of God. Even when we claim we believe in God and are trying to obey Him, Paul makes it clear that none of us actually are seeking after the true God. Because of our sin nature, we in fact create idolatrous versions of God. We seek to worship a god of our own creation, one who either will not take our sin seriously, or one which will allow us to do some sort of work to personally make up for it. Neither is the true God, but is in fact a god of self. We are worshiping our own perceived innate goodness, thus proving we are the very wicked sinners who Paul is writing about. Outside the regenerative work of Jesus Christ, we cannot truly seek after and worship God. Therefore, we will pursue the wicked desires of our own heart while professing our own self righteousness along the way.
Matthew 5:21-22 records the words of Jesus who said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Chris Himself declared that a person who harbors anger and insults another person will be judged the same as one who commits murder. In other words, whenever you have been angry at or felt hatred for another human being, God has seen you as wicked a sinner as the man who killed five people in my town. That is applicable to each and every one of us, myself included. That should terrify us. When I am horrified that my neighborhood was rocked by such evil, I should also remember that, in the eyes of God, I am as terrible a sinner as the one who committed the evil. God judges the thoughts and intents of the heart, not just the actions.
This brings me back to my original statement. When I thought of the tragedy committed by this man, I gave no thought to his eternal state before the Lord. I focused solely on the crime and the danger to my family. As a Christian, I know that I have sinned in the areas of anger and hatred. Yet, God in His mercy has forgiven me through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I rightly deserve His wrath, but Christ took the righteous judgment of God upon Himself for me at the cross. He suffered and died for the sins of my heart. He was buried, yet rose again, defeating death and granting me eternal life. If I know that I was deserving of such condemnation, but was forgiven, then I must desire to see even the most vile and wicked murderer to receive the precious gift of the gospel.
Does this mean that I should not be concerned about the terrible events in my neighborhood, and shouldn’t bother taking steps to protect my family. Certainly not. Knowing that I live in the midst of a wicked and perverse people, wisdom dictates that I be aware of the dangers that surround us and take to the proper steps to keep my family from harm. But I must also desire to bring the precious gospel to that same wicked and perverse people. I was a wicked sinner just as they were, yet I was saved by the blood of Christ. If I ever believe that somehow the crimes of someone are beyond the saving grace of Jesus, or that, because that criminal was so vicious, I simply could never share the gospel with them, then I prove myself an even greater sinner than the murderer. I write this to encourage my brethren to look at the tragedies that surround you in light of the gospel. Certainly, we can feel fear, sadness and even righteous anger. But never let us see ourselves as better than those who committed these crimes. Let us pray for them and even go to great lengths to bring the life saving gospel to their perishing souls.
The following article from Albert Mohler gives wise counsel on how Christians should handle the recent tragedy in Connecticut. I highly recommend all Christians take the time to read this and put it into practice.
“It has happened again. This time tragedy came to Connecticut, where a lone gunman entered two classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and opened fire, killing at least twenty children and six adults, before turning his weapons of death upon himself. The young victims, still to be officially identified, ranged in age from five to ten years. The murderer was himself young, reported to be twenty years old. According to press reports, he murdered his mother, a teacher at Sandy Hook, in her home before the rampage at the school.
Apparently, matricide preceded mass murder. Some of the children were in kindergarten, not even able to tie their own shoes. The word kindergarten comes from the German, meaning a garden for children. Sandy Hook Elementary School was no garden today. It was a place of murder, mayhem, and undisguised evil.
The calculated and premeditated nature of this crime, combined with the horror of at least twenty murdered children, makes the news almost unspeakable and unbearable. The grief of parents and loved ones in Newtown is beyond words. Yet, even in the face of such a tragedy, Christians must speak. We will have to speak in public about this evil, and we will have to speak in private about this horrible crime. How should Christians think and pray in the aftermath of such a colossal crime?”
Today, another shooting has taken the lives of at least 27 individuals. According to news reports, twenty of these are little children mostly from one class or section of an elementary school in Connecticut. There is an unspeakable horror that fills the heart to think that tonight some children will no longer be preparing with their families for the Christmas season. Little children just starting out in life have had their young lives snuffed out before they really even began.
While many blogs and news items will focus on things like “Where was God?” or “Gun control” or whatever else will be the hot topic for the next days and weeks, my purpose for writing my personal thoughts are completely different.
This is not to belittle the nightmare the parents, children, teachers, and extended family and friends are going through, but it is an attempt to recognize something that only a tragedy can bring to light.
As I hugged my two little 6 year old girls earlier, tears came to my eyes thinking how short life can be. I realized that unlike the parents of those little children who are lying lifeless in pools of blood tonight, I still have the privilege of holding my little ones. Some parents may have lost their only child today, while other parents were able to go home and hug those siblings who remain and try to explain why their little brother or sister will never come home.
Yet, I wonder how many found themselves in situations, maybe even this morning, that are replicated in so many homes. Namely, we often take our children for granted until it is too late. Our children can be taken in so many ways, and when they are gone, there is nothing that we as parents can do to reverse the situation. In the grand scheme of things, the numbers of children who will die at the hands of a crazed gunman in America each year is slim. Many might assume that the answer to protecting our children from such tragedies is to homeschool them, but attacks around the world have shown that those who are bent on displaying the depths of their depravity have no rules about protecting the lives of any particular age group.
Sometimes our children are taken by the medium of time. The clock keeps ticking while our lives become entrapped with life, jobs, television, games, and many other things that keep from us from seeing how quickly their little lives are slipping away.
I cannot help but wonder how I would feel if it was my children who were lying on a cold floor waiting for a visit from a funeral director. I would probably deeply regret any words that I may have spoken in haste or maybe a harsh word that should have been curtailed realizing that children are not only imperfect but that I, as the father, am also imperfect and need to be changed by the grace of God.
Today is definitely a tragedy and will remain so. Words will never replace the lives of those who are gone from this life. But I wonder if we will actually learn from tragedies such as this shooting in Connecticut, or will life soon return to normal for each of us who did not lose any precious treasures. Yet, will we fail to remember that we are losing them one way or the other? Death and time are no respecter of persons.
Tonight, I have hugged my little ones, but I have also regretted the tragedy that took place because I allowed time to slip by me when my boys were little. They are now all adults and no longer in our home and I cannot retrace my steps. I cannot take back the harsh or careless words. I cannot reverse time and wish I had spent more time with them. If I fail to learn from my mistakes, they will be repeated.
The heart of mankind is wicked, and without the grace of God affecting a change from being dead into a new creation in Christ, tragedies will take place over and over. My prayer is that it will not take another shooting for us to realize what we have right now. Treasures have been placed in our care – treasures that are an heritage from the Lord. May we be reminded not just tonight, but every night that today may be our last or the last of our children.
We do not want to close the day regretting what we cannot change. May our lives not only reflect our love for and to our children, but may they reflect that Christ rules in every aspect of our life. To do otherwise would be an even greater tragedy – a tragedy that will never make the news, but would be a tragedy nonetheless.