I can only begin to put together thoughts about the tragic situation at Sandy Hook Elementary School today, and I don’t know that there are words to describe the anger, frustration, and very deep sadness I feel for the lives that were lost and forever changed today. As I read the news- 20 children, 6 adults and the shooter dead, others wounded, the possibility that other family members of the gunman were slain- my heart can not even begin to comprehend the devastation encompassed by those words. as the images from Sandy Hook flash across our screens, of the chaotic scenes of the morning to mourning and profound loss as the enormity of this tragedy sets in, feelings of hopelessness begin to set in.
we live in a broken world, friends. the immensity and pain of situations like this one are extremely difficult to bear. tiny young lives that were stolen. hundreds of other young people who will struggle with feelings of anger, anxiety, confusion and fear for days and weeks and years to come. adults who had devoted their lives to bettering the lives of children taken from their spouses, parents and own children. It’s just not fair, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t broken and shaken by events such as these.
I have never really known much about or understood Advent. As a young child, I remember lighting candles in an Advent wreath, and I’ve celebrated the season with an Advent calendar, but until very recently I don’t think I understood the depth of the beauty and pain the season represents. Advent- a time of “expectant waiting and preparation” for the coming of Jesus, our Savior. “The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.” I think that behind all of my anger, tears, frustration and heartache today, this is what I feel most deeply: a deep, painful longing for the coming of a Savior, for the Home I was created for, which feels – especially in the wake of a senseless tragedy – so very far away. For several years I have said that my favorite Christmas song is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” but couldn’t really explain why I felt such a deep connection to it. I understood it today, though. It’s the longing, the desire to be ransomed, the hopeful but painful period of expectant waiting to be in the presence of a Holy Savior. I am grateful for this season that reminds us all that though there is great joy and hope (the birth of Jesus), there is also equally real and valid longing, hurt and frustration. We should grieve. We have to grieve. I know that the heart of God is deeply grieved today. A friend posted the following words of Meister Eckhart: “There is no pain or sorrow which comes to us that has not first passed through the Heart of God.” Truly we are not alone in our suffering.
All of that being said, this world is not what my hope lies in. I have been clinging to this verse today, I pray that it gives a glimmer of hope for what’s to come, for our Savior whose work is surely not finished: John 16:33 (Jesus is speaking) “I have told you these things so that you may have peace in Me. In this world you will face many trials and sorrows, but take heart! for I have overcome the world.”
Friends, as we process this horrific event, may we choose love over hate. this world has enough hate, and more hatred will never defeat evil. only Love can do that. In this season of deep sadness, may we identify and embrace the deep longing in our hearts, the advent season, and may we also cling to the hope that comes from our promised Savior. And may God, who grieves with us all, be the giver of comfort and hope for all who mourn.