It is so hard to find and express the words that appropriately convey the feelings we all have about the tragedy that took place on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. As someone said in a television interview on Sunday, it’s difficult to find sanity in an insane situation, and yet that’s exactly what everyone grasps for at a time like this in order to find, and give, some semblance of comfort.
Comfort is solely a mental, emotional and spiritual issue, so our fervent prayer is that each family, each person, touched by this may be given the thoughts, memories and reflections that will help in some way to ease their suffering as they take this long walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
It’s hard to walk through that valley, though, unless you see a path to take, and know where that path will take you. And that requires a particular type of vision and understanding.
Darrell Scott has some sound advice on that. Sometimes, in trying to give comfort to others, we make the mistake of saying things like, “I know how you feel,” or, “I feel your pain.” But those are hollow words if we’ve never actually been in their shoes. Scott, however, is a voice of credibility—he has been in the same shoes as the parents of the children who were slain in Sandy Hook.
Scott and his wife, Beth Nimmo, lost their daughter Rachel in the Columbine school shooting on April 20, 1999. Their son Craig survived, but two of his friends were killed as he huddled with them under a cafeteria table. Since that time, Scott founded “Rachel’s Challenge,” an organization dedicated to preventing school violence, bullying and teen suicide. At times like this, news organizations turn to people like Scott to shed light on how you survive as a parent, and his words to a reporter this weekend were very insightful.
Scott’s advice is simple: It is so important, he says, that we not look simply at the events that occur, but that we see through them. In other words, we must see past them by not just looking at the immediate, but at the larger picture of life. We cannot find comfort—we cannot find hope, we cannot find meaning to life—by limiting our view of life to the events of the moment. If we see life from event to event, we will only move from sadness to sadness, tragedy to tragedy, because that’s simply the way this world is working.
But, on the other hand, if we can understand how to place the individual events of life in a larger context, we can find the help we so desperately need in times like these.
Yes, horrific calamities, like that which played out on Friday, immediately cause us to focus more on death than life; to emotionally feel more despair than hope; to grasp for answers to the unknown instead of being anchored to core truths.
So, is it possible to move in our vision from death to life, from despair to hope, from the uncertainty of questions to an assurance of truth? Absolutely! There is indeed a path that we can take. It is, in fact, a path we must take because, sad to say, we know that we will be grappling again with these same challenges when the next mass shooting unfolds.
If, then, we are going to deal effectively with these issues in our own minds, or if we are going to be able to help our fellow brothers and sisters in their times of crisis, we urgently need to see a larger picture that offers hope; that offers an understanding of life (past, present and future); that offers principles and ways of living that are based on true, proven values, ethics, beliefs and standards.
Only in God’s Word can we find that larger picture. The Bible offers a unique perspective on human history—God’s perspective. We see not only His account of the human experience, but a study of why we suffer and, most important, a vision of hope to see through it all to a different world that is coming.
As we see the names and pictures and stories of these precious children and adults who died at Sandy Hook, God tells us to see through today to the time He has promised when we will see them again, to a time when He “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
How God will accomplish that is also found in His Word, and we will explore that more in the future. But for now, on behalf of everyone here at Life, Hope & Truth, we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to you in Newtown. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and with you who are in other parts of the nation and world whose lives have previously been devastated by similar tragedies. We pray fervently, not only for you in your time of need now, but that God will speed the fulfillment of the promise of His coming Kingdom, which is our anchor of hope.
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Clyde Kilough.