This weekend I was traveling to a funeral and hadn’t heard the news of the shooting in Newtown, CT. My husband and I were listening to Christian Radio and we kept hearing them pray for those in Newtown, but no one would say what had taken place. Since technology is so readily attainable, Pete got on his phone and started searching for this town call Newtown. I could see his face change as he read through the article. “What happened,” I said. I was driving so I felt a bit out of control since I couldn’t read what he was reading. “It’s horrible,” he replied. Pete doesn’t do well with tragic, detailed stories about life. In fact, he just cannot stand to hear news like what had happened in Newtown. It makes him sick to his stomach, to the point that he has to turn off the news or stop reading a story. He is so compassionate for those that are hurt by life circumstances. It is a trait that I love about him. He slowly gave me the details of the news report, and I swallowed hard. As I glanced in our rear view mirror at my 3 kids in the car, my heart went out for those families. How will those families get passed this horrible event and find peace again in their lives? The chance of bitterness and blame seeping into their souls was high. I know I would want answers as to why my child had been taken from me, if I were in their shoes. I know I would be furious at the person that took my child’s life. I know I would be enraged that someone took my innocent child’s life in a place that I consider safe. Blame, anger, bitterness, resentment; they all come to mind when I deal with a difficult situation that I view as unfair and unjust.
Joanna Weaver in her book “Having a Mary Spirit” gives us three essential facts to keep in mind when dealing with anger about a situation to hopefully root out bitterness:
• Life is not fair
• People will hurt us and let us down
• We won’t always understand why
Is that not perfect for the occasions that we have blame and anger in our life? When I find myself angered to the point that I am starting to point fingers, I know I have pushed God out of my life and I am moving on to a whole lot of bitterness ahead. Here is the thing, in all the articles I have read, not one of them talks about resentment. In fact, one of them quoted a father of one of the murdered children saying that he offers prayers for the shooter’s family. He offered up sorrow for the shooter’s family. He knew that he was suffering, but others were suffering too (and he was aware of that). WOW! When I think of all the times that I have sulked, pointed out blame, cried my eyes out over my own problems; this man makes me realize that others have problems too and they deserve prayers and support just as much as I do.
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Pretty much goes right along with Joanna Weaver’s book. If I don’t come to terms with the fact that life is not fair, and I allow bitterness and blame to rule my heart, then I will never be able to love my enemies. Without love, I will have nothing but resentment. Yuck. Resentment makes me feel extremely depressed, unloved, sad and singled out. I start to feel myself turn into someone I cannot even love. I allow God to leave my soul and open the door to evil. We face obstacles all the time that make us feel life is not fair. It may not be to the extent that Newtown is feeling, but it is still there and deserves to be noticed. I should take to heart the people of Newtown’s response because they are truly allowing God to control what is going on right now. They aren’t pointing blame and sulking in resentment. They are praying. They are asking God for strength. They are conversing with God (maybe even asking – why), but never the less, they are reaching out for His help. They are acknowledging that this was not fair. They are accepting that people will hurt them and let them down. They are beginning to realize that they may never understand why this happened. Through this process, resentment will be pushed to the side, and God will finally be able to work in their hearts. The same can be done for you and me. There is a lesson to be learned from this tragedy and I don’t intend to let it pass me by.
Dear God, please be with the families of Newtown that have been touched by this tragedy. Carry all those that have died into the Kingdom of Heaven where they will suffer no more. Send your presence and light down to those that have survived whether this is through Your scripture, Your people or Your church. Let the town experience peace and love beyond any other that they have ever experienced. God, we know these families deserve peace. They have suffered so much in the last few days. Let them see a hint of light at the end of the tunnel, and let them offer hope for each other in what seems like a hopeless situation. Please let them be accepting of what happened and keep their hearts open to You, so that resentment does not fester and stir up more evil. We lift up everyone – including those that have let us down – into your loving arms. Amen.