Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grieving over the loss of children

What do we do when the lives of 20 children are tragically taken from this world in one cruel, twisted action?  How do we answer this question:

Why did it happen?

It certainly didn’t happen because God doesn’t care about children.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11

No, God loves all of His children; He knows each of us and watches over us with care.  He is a Father who watches our every move and knows the count of the hairs on our head.  He cared no less than that, for the children of Sandy Hook School.  He cares for the children who lost their lives; He cares for the children who witnessed the shootings and struggle with those memories; He cares for the parents who grieve.

It certainly didn’t happen, as some have said, because we have taken Christian teaching out of the schools. The idea that God would punish these children because the government of their parents prohibits faith from being taught in their school is not only a horrible thought, but a wrong one.   In 2006 a man entered an Amish school, a school where the Christian faith was taught, and killed five young students.  Even in the town where our Savior was born, innocent babies were killed upon the orders of a wicked king. 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5

The teaching of the Christian faith can be prohibited in our schools, but faith was not gone from Sandy Hook on that day.  Many of the children in that school had faith poured into their hearts through the Holy Spirit.  No man, no law, can take away that faith. 

It certainly didn’t happen because there are too many guns in our world or not enough guns at the school, or because we do not care for our mentally ill.  And it certainly didn’t happen because of the way the media treats these horrible events, or the way we seem to lust after every bit of information as if that means we are grieving with those who have suffered the loss.

No, it happened, plain and simple, because we are sinners living in a sinful world.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— Romans 5:12

Many more than 20 children die, in our world, every day.  They die of heart defects, from accidents, from gunshots in drive-by shootings.  They die from malaria, malnutrition, and cancer.  In every case, their deaths are senseless and painful to those who love them and miss them.  We see the pain this time, because we see ourselves in the faces of the parents.  We feel the terror because the news of these violent deaths repeatedly assaults us from the television, newspaper, and live feed on our mobile data devices.  We are touched and saddened by these deaths and that grief is real.

 Yet, children die every day because of our sin and because of the sinful, dirty, evil world in which we live; because of the sin we cling to; the sin that motivates our every thought and action.   

And God loves us anyway, perfectly, completely, and mercifully, even as He grieves over us and the children lost to death.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.  Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5: 15-21

God’s love knows the grief of the violent death of a child.  He knows what we felt when we heard of the death of these children.  He knows about the grief of the family members, teachers and classmates who mourn the loss of loved ones. 

God gathers them in His arms and carries them close to His heart. 

It falls on us to mourn with these parents, and with any parent suffering the loss of a child.  We mourn with them, pray for them, and offer them the comfort of God’s love in our words and actions.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. II Corinthians 1: 3-5

What about our own children?  How do we answer their questions, especially when those questions are so similar to the ones we lift up to our Heavenly Father?

When we have unanswerable questions we turn to the truth we know.  We turn to our Bibles and read and remember the faith put into our hearts at our Baptism.

God loves the children who were killed, and He loves us. 

God loves us, no matter what. 

There is nothing we can do, there is nothing that evil can do, that can separate us from that love.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 37-38

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kim that was very nice and very well done. Thank you. Marianne Allen
teacher Bethesda Lutheran School
Hot Springs