As a parents, it would be hard not to identify with and ache for the grieving families in Connecticut. Like most, my thoughts quickly turned to my own children.
What do I tell them when they ask questions about this? For me, I told my two school aged children the same thing I should always tell them—the Gospel.
The overarching message of the Bible, the Gospel as the story of history, is the idea of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. This is what we should constantly be reminding ourselves and our children about, especially during moments like these.
Creation: God made this world to be perfect and wonderful. There were no shootings or violence, sicknesses or murders in God’s good creation. He pronounced it very good and it was.
Fall: We decided that we knew better than God. Humanity disobeyed God and opened the door for sin and death, pain and suffering to enter into creation. Things were no longer perfect. They were broken.
Redemption: Even though we were the ones who messed up and continue to mess up. God was the only one who could act to fix things. He did sent Jesus to pay our penalty and enable us to have a relationship with the Father again.
Restoration: Jesus is working to make things new again. He is starting in the lives of individuals, but one day He will return as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Then, He will restore everything to its proper status. Creation will be made new again. All will be right.
This way of seeing history and understanding life can be applied directly to the tragedy in Connecticut. Our children need to know that the Gospel is not just for happy Christmas celebrations with family and friends, but also for tear soaked pillows of a grieving mother.
When God made this world, it was perfect and no one had to worry about being murdered, but we disobeyed Him and brought sin into His good creation. One of the first sins the Bible records is Cain murdering his brother. This is not God’s plan or His desire. Sin, disobedience and murder are all a result of the Fall.
What the murderer in Newtown did is just as much a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden as Cain killing Abel in the field. The individual who took innocent life is responsible, but that is something that could only happen in a fallen world.
Jesus knows all about murder. He was betrayed and crucified, but He was sacrificing Himself for us. He was paying the penalty for our sins, so that we could be redeemed and brought back into a relationship with God. We rebelled, but Christ redeemed.
Some sins are big and clearly hurt lots of people like what happened last Friday. Others sins don’t seem that serious, but we should always remember that every sin, no matter how big or little it seems to us, is something that works to separate us from God.
While Jesus is working to change the hearts of individuals now, one day He will return to set things right. Humanity and all of creation will be restored. We will be back in a world with no murder or sin, but this time it will be permanent.
During this time of the year, we sing Joy to the World as a Christmas carol, but in reality it is a hymn about the second coming of Christ, not the first. The third verse reminds us exactly what Jesus will do when He returns.
No more let sins and sorrows grow
nor thorns infest the ground:
He comes to make His blessings flow
far as the curse is found.
He will reverse the fall and the curse of sin that came as a result. Because of this, we can have joy even though it may not feel like it right now.
We often speak of joy as if it is totally divorced from circumstances. It’s not. Joy just realizes that the present circumstances are temporary. Joy understands that better, permanent circumstances are coming.
That’s what I want to tell my kids. I want them to know that God is with them and that He loves them. He loves them so much that He sent His Son to bring them into a relationship with Him.
I want my kids to know that God can comfort the broken families in Newtown better than most. His own Son was murdered. God is acquainted with suffering and loss.
I want to tell my kids that death, while appearing to be a ravaging monster devouring anyone in his path, is, in fact, a defeated foe. He was unable to hold Jesus in the grave and the same will be true for everyone who trust in the victory won that first Easter morning.
What do I tell my kids after a tragedy like the one at Sandy Hook? The same thing I tell them when all seems right in the world. The same thing I tell them when they feel loved. The same thing I tell them when they feel unloved.
I tell them the only thing that makes sense of everything that happens in this world. I tell them the Gospel.