“Please treat our community with kindness" – Sadness, Fools and God in the Midst of Tragedy

I was in high school when the Columbine shootings happened. I still remember the horror of it all. Their high school was so much like mine. I was the same age as so many of the kids who were killed. I remember the names of one of the girls: Rachel Scott. We were the same age. She was a Christian. She would have been graduating a few months later like I did. She didn’t. I heard her dad speak two years after it happened. I remember him reading from her diary entries from just days before she was shot.

Two days ago we saw madness and insanity and evil wreck carnage again on a school. How do we even cope? 6 year olds? Really?! There just aren’t categories for coping with that kind of level of grief. Connecticut just fills me and so many of you with such deep sadness. It’s been a decade and a bit since my first real engagement with this kind of stuff. The wrong in the world though is not just the school shootings in the suburbs. It’s the kid popped on the corner in the ghetto that no one hears about. It barely makes local news might alone national news. I hope we mourn and are as saddened for that as we are for the psycho sprees. They all show us something we don’t want to see about the world. Someone wrote me an email today broken up and struggling with both the tragedy of what happened and the responses of some to it that are trite and insensitive. I thought I would just write 3 points for us all to consider this week.

1.) “Please treat our community with kindness.” 

This was one of the requests from a city official. I think this is a great request. It was for the media in regards to time and space to allow healing. For all of us though, let’s consider how to be kind. Praying for them, being kind on Facebook and Twitter, not being calloused, taking caution and not using flippant remarks, you never know who is listening or how they are taking your words. How do we be kind to this community with the unbelievable tragedy they have suffered? How do we be kind to those around us, never knowing how they may have suffered in other types of tragic pain? How can we be stretched to love the outcast, to step into the lives of the abuse victim, to help the struggling broken family, to not walk away from dysfunction but to love and show kindness? Something worth thinking about..

2.) Don’t be a fool. 

There was a guy named Job who lived a few thousand years ago and some pretty horrible stuff happened to him: all his children died in a freak accident and all his wealth was stolen and his health went and he had these “friends” who tried to advise him and they just came across as self righteous jerks pointing the finger at him to try and figure out why all this bad stuff happened to him. Clearly he had done something bad and deserved it. God was punishing him for it. That was not the case. Karma is not in the Bible. The end of the story has Job having an encounter with God. God’s slams Job’s friends better than Eminem can slam an opponent in a rap battle. Don’t mess. Don’t be like THOSE guys and open your mouth when sometimes the best thing you can say is nothing.

3.) God knows, loves, cares and weeps. 

I have but feeble attempts for answers in times like this. I can talk about why the world is not right in a big sense and why that leads to tragedies like this but really .. let’s save that for another time. The real answer is I don’t know and this weekend we all feel miserably sick because we don’t understand and this is beyond terrible. The only thing I do know is the love of God for all of us in our lack of answers, for the whole community in Connecticut ridden with tragedy, and for the children and teachers who died, for all the families who have to face this tomorrow and the next day and the next, and even the killer himself is real. I know because the shortest verse in the Bible happens as one of Jesus’s friends dies. He is going to raise him from the dead shortly. Jesus knows he is about to do this. Yet the verse says “Jesus wept.”

I don’t know why this all happened. I just know God loves and weeps. He enters into our grief. That is the best way I can respond as well.. to love and to be able to weep with those who are weeping.

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