Yesterday, December 14, 2012, I spent my afternoon working in my oldest son's middle school helping out at the 8th grade Christmas dinner. While filling water glasses and admiring how these 8th graders "cleaned up", I was unaware that in a small town to the north of us, the unspeakable was unfolding. I was unaware that a man until yesterday we wouldn't have known if we bumped into him on the street who we now have nightmares of, was forcing his nightmare onto the most innocent of us all, little children all 6 and 7 years old. I look at my own 7 year old and can NOT imagine the thought for even a second. As I learned what was happening in Connecticut, tears ran down my face. We will never fully understand how someone could inflict this kind of horror onto others. We will come to learn of whatever mental illness he was plagued with and what signs were missed. None of this will change what has happened but the hope is it may stop another tragedy and we have to try.
In all of this, I am reminded of a quote from Mr. Rogers that is all over social media now and I have seen it before. Where he tells of his mother telling him as a child when he sees sad things on the news to look for the helpers. What a simple and true piece of advice for children and us adults. Along with this floating through the different channels of the Internet, we see pictures of lit candles, pictures of Jesus and little children and verses from the Bible fitting for times such as these. But there us something else floating through the channels that I don't agree with. I keep seeing a "letter" from God, where, when asked why bad things have happened in schools and such, He supposedly answers with I'm not allowed there anymore. While it is true that prayer has been removed from public places like school, God did not leave. There are prayers uttered by countless parents daily as they take their children to and from school. There are prayers uttered by many teachers and staff as they start their day. While they may not pray as a class, prayers are prayed everyday and God hears them. Besides that, I believe just because we as a society in general may turn away from God, He NEVER turns away from us. He is always there. I do not believe that prayer in school would have stopped this tragedy. I believe that God was with those children guiding them home to heaven. We live in a fallen world, a world that has been that way since the fall of man with the first sin. I think we need to look for God in this tragedy. I believe He is in the church with the families and loved ones as they prayed during a vigil that very night. I believe He was with the officers as they led the children out of the nightmare. I believe He was with the families holding onto each other and holding each other up as they learned if their loved one had survived or not. I believe He was with the priests as they prayed with these families. I believe He is with us now as we try to come to grips with the horrors that we have seen and as we hug our loved ones a little closer too. I believe He is with us during the good and the bad. Would it be better if we allowed God into all areas of our life, yes. I believe people should be able to see Jesus through us in all things and we should never stop trying. I know this is something I need a lot of work on. It is easy to love those who are kind and good and hard to love those who are not. I believe that a person who sees God's love through another can change them for the better. My hope is we can all look for the helpers as the wisdom in the now famous quote tells us but when we find the helpers, we need to recognize Jesus shining through them. We need to continue to pray for the people directly affected by this tragedy and as it moves from the forefront of our conversations, we need to continue to pray for God's guidance in our lives.