Senseless. Questioning. Torn.
How could this happen? They were only children, concerned mostly with whether their heart's desire was waiting under a tinsel topped tree.
Their parents had probably been praying for their safety for years. How could God ignore such a selfless request, twenty times over?
That is the view from down here, in a fallen world.
But what if God not only answered the prayers of each of the parents in Connecticut, but he did more than they could ever ask or think or imagine. *
In my mind, a prayer for my children's protection means safety and
shelter from the evil around them. "Please keep them safe" translates
to, "Don't let them be hurt."
Since my thoughts are not his thoughts and my ways are not his ways,* I have to try to make sense of things from his point of view.
What if his idea of "keeping them safe" means giving them peace that passes all understanding* in the midst of evil? What if it means them feeling his warm arms around them and hearing a whisper of "I am here with you. Fear not." Perhaps he answers prayers by wiping every tear from their eyes*, forever.
I serve a God who promises to never leave me or forsake me*. I believe he can do anything. So I have to trust that his love was wrapped around each scared student and teacher. It's possible he kept them from feeling any pain at all. He was outraged at the evil even more so than I was. Yet, as the broken son of Adam pulled the trigger, I am sure God was speaking to his soul too, saying, "I love you. I still want to forgive you. Yes, I died even for you. Please turn and believe."
It still hurts. The happenings of this world will never seem fair. Death was not the original plan for his children. Pain in the face of evil, especially for those left trying to make sense of it all, is unavoidable. He longs to comfort those who mourn if we will let him.
However, my faith can not depend on God answering my prayers the way I want them to be answered. That is telling God, "I know better than you how to handle this situation."
Tonight as I pray over my children, I will ask him to use the pain they encounter in this world to make them stronger and keep them safely in his arms forever. I will echo Paul:
My response is to
get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who
parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his
Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ
will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him
that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in
with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.
Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the
depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of
God. (Eph. 3:14-19 MSG)
I ask—ask the God
of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent
and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear,
so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp
the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh,
the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy,
boundless strength! (Eph 1:17-19 MSG)
Thank you, God of wisdom, for allowing me to share this life with others, whether it be for decades or days. Help me to hold onto everyone around me loosely and you tightly. Amen.
*Ephesians 3:20, Isaiah 55:8, Philippians 4:7, Revelation 21:4, Deuteronomy 31:6