We are all aware of the tragic shootings which took place in Newtown, Connecticut this past week. Less than forty-eight hours after this heinous event took place, politicians, media talking heads, bloggers, radio show hosts and even people on Facebook were pontificating about the causes of this senseless violence. There is already a call for stricter gun control laws with our president vowing this will never happen again. I have heard the prattle that stricter laws would have kept this from happening (Even though the shooter broke over 40 laws in existence while committing this violence). I have heard the prattle that had their been a policeman with a gun or if the principal or teachers had been armed, the shooter would have been killed before he could do any damage. People have held vigils in front of the White House, asking the president to end violence by taking away the amount of guns and ability to get guns. I have heard people comment about the amount of armed guards surrounding the president, even as he spoke out against automatic weapons and in favor of stricter gun laws. People have gone to Facebook to post pithy little sayings, supporting their point of view. This morning on CNN, they held their news from Newtown and spent over an hour reporting on this tragedy. Then one of their commercials was an advertisement for the latest assassin video game with the tag line being, “Rated the number one shooter game in America”. In the days to come, we will be inundated with people who have the solution to this problem: Stricter guns laws, more citizens carrying guns, mental health improvement, better parental involvement, dangers of medication given to children and much more. All the while, the next person is plotting how much damage he can do and the publicity which will be stirred by the gruesome act he is planning.
The truth is that the cause of this violence is far deeper than can be addressed on a Facebook post or a blog or on a newscast or an op-ed piece. As followers of Christ, we know the issue gets back to our most basic human problem: sin. This is not giving a simple answer to a complex problem. Yet, sin really is the root cause of the problems in our world. We also know that sin will never be eradicated, which is the reason laws continue to be enacted to curb the base instincts of humanity caused by sin.
However, lost in all of the rhetoric is the pain of loss. Parents have lost children. Children have lost mothers. Children have lost classmates. When the political and media pay-off isn’t there anymore, the politicians and news will pack up for the next calamity. Oh, they will always bring up Sandy Hook again whenever it is expedient for the cause they are pushing. But the parents of those students will forever have a loss which cannot be replaced. Only those who have lost children can understand the pain these parents are experiencing. Unfortunately, politicians and the media will interview and quote the parents whose words fit their agenda. But the pain of these parents will never go away. There will always be a place at the table which is empty. There is a bed which may never hold another child. There is a room which carried the unique decorating of that child which is now empty. There are arms longing to embrace a child who will never come home. Birthdays will come and go with parents wondering what their child would be like at a certain age. The town will grieve and mourn, but life will not stop for them. The mundane aspects of life (Like work, bills, preparing meals, etc.) will all be awaiting them in the near future. The publicity and out pouring will move on once another “tragedy” strikes. Then, parents will have to find a way to place their memories in a perspective that is healing rather than destructive. In a perspective which will lead to an appreciation, not depression. It will take more than months or years. This is a loss that will color their entire lives, from which there is no escape(Nor would any parent want to escape the memory of his/her child).
Our church challenge for 2012 was “Comfort”. In Isaiah 40:1-2, we see God’s call to His people is to bring, not just comfort, but comfort comfort. God repeats the word comfort to us as a reminder that comforting those in need is an investment which may not have a pay-off any time soon. The chief call to the follower of Christ is not to pass laws seeking to end gun violence, but to bring comfort in our corner of the world. There are people all around us who are struggling to cope with life, especially during the month of December. There are many around us who are thinking about giving up and see no reason to live. We are called to have eyes that see beyond our own world and look for the hurts of others. Jesus told us in Matthew 25 that whenever we do this for someone, we have actually touched the face of Jesus.
I cannot and will not even attempt to give answers concerning this tragedy in Connecticut. My Facebook will never post a “bumper sticker” with quick words about how to fix things. Because of sin, there are not easy answers and quick fixes. However, I want to be more faithful in reaching out to those who appear as outcasts and loners. I want to reach out to those suffering loss and bring them a sense of God’s comfort and peace. Maybe that is avoiding the issue, but I would rather be an instrument of God’s healing than invest my limited energy ranting about that which I cannot fix. As a follower of Christ, will you take the time today to look with the eyes of Jesus? Will you reach out to someone who appears to be hurting? Will you seek to bring comfort, comfort to your corner of the world? Will you seek to embrace with your arms rather than confront with your words? Giving comfort is not for the timid nor easily discouraged. It is a calling which will radically change our priorities and the lives around us. Will you keep responding to the 2012 challenge to comfort?