It is a place I always felt safe, and I can't begin to imagine the feelings that these children will have throughout the rest of their lives after experiencing something so tragic and senseless.
It is difficult to understand the brokenness and despair that is rampant right now, the anger and hatred flooding the lives of all involved.
There will be many reactions.
Some people will fight for tougher gun laws.
Some people will fight for tougher drug laws, if drugs were involved, or for better mental health resources if it is determined that should have been necessary for this person. Schools across the country will review and implement their own emergency plans.
People will cry.
People will mourn.
People will despair.
Everyone will have an opinion. Everyone will want to explain why, and yet, we may never have the answers we seek. And what is one supposed to say? Platitudes are useless--and perhaps even this post of mine falls into that category. There are very few words that will help right now, when hearts are broken and minds are confused. People everywhere have questions and wonder where to turn.
We can only pray and hope that God will bring healing to lives, and change to hearts of people who would follow in the same path of this shooter.
It is a very real reminder that evil exists and has touched the shooter and the victims--both those that are dead and those that will have this memory imprinted on their minds and hearts for years to come. Parents have lost children, others may have lost siblings. Lives and families have been torn apart. We are reminded we live in the "now and not yet".
The now, when we echo the words of David from Psalm 6:
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror. My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O LORD -- how long? (verses 2-3). I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eyes waste away because of grief; they grow weak because of all my foes. (verses 6-7).
The now, when through the darkness and despair, God is still there:
Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. (verse 8)
For I am convinced 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 8:38-39)
The now, when we cling to each other:
weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15)
The now and the not yet, as we remember Jesus' special love for children:
But Jesus called for them and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. (Luke 18:16)
The not yet, as we pray:
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10).
The not yet, as we cling to hope:
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-25)
The not yet, as we wait in anticipation:
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:12-13)
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?" I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:13 - 8:1)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." (Revelation 21:1-5)
It is my prayer today that God's love and peace will touch all who are affected, directly and peripherally, that His glorious presence will be felt, that the Body will offer comfort, companionship, and love today and in the days to come to the families of those killed today. Let us all be able to "not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).