The tragedy that overtook a small, formerly idyllic community in Connecticut is beyond sad, or any other word I know of in our vocabulary. There are many stronger words, but sometimes basic works just as well. No one who hasn’t been under a rock knows what a horrible thing happened last Friday at 9:38 AM in Sandy Hook Elementary School. My heart grieves and prays for the families of that town, especially those who lost a family member, and for the first responders who were the first to see the results of such violence. None of these lives, nor the lives of the children and teachers who survived, will ever be the same. Can you imagine being in first grade, put in a closet by your teacher because that was all she had time to do before bullets sprayed the room? And needing, I imagine, to go through that classroom to exit the building? I heard in one of the incessant, insensitive interviews that one adult survivor was guided out of the building by police, telling her to keep her eyes closed, that she shouldn’t see what they were walking through. Oh, how I pray each child had the same. I don’t know about other parts of this country and beyond how much news air time is exclusively about this horror, but I live in Connecticut and it’s pretty pervasive here. The local channels have resumed doing sports and weather, but so far, that is all I’ve seen on local reports. So much so that when my husband turned on the news and, as predictable, Sandy Hook coverage came on, our son screamed for his father to turn it off. Some of this is understandable, but cameras at the churches and funeral home as people exited? In my humble opinion, that is way too intrusive.
And suppositions galore have come up, unproven suppositions, of the mental health of the shooter, including that he had severe mental illness* (later said to be unproven) Asperger’s Syndrome, or was somewhere else on the Autism Spectrum, these suppositions “explaining” the lack of empathy he had. By the way, autism is a neurological condition. My son, who was so upset today, has not talked about it with us or his therapist earlier today. He is one of the most empathetic people you will likely ever know. And he has autism. His greatest hope, that may or may not come true, is to be married and have a family. It’s less likely for him than for many not on the spectrum due to the social awkwardness, lack of ability to read social cues for example, which are true. But rather than leading to violence, this leads him to tears and begging for help to learn how to read the cues most take for granted. If any comparison is to be made, he is less likely to become violent, on any scale, than some our dedicated men and women who have served our country in war overseas, or in Manhattan whose PTSD causes such flashbacks that they cannot overcome them. And please, please don’t take that as a demeaning of these brave people who give so much, sometimes all. It is intended only as an example of how people with excellent mental health can be driven, through no flaw or desire of their own, to do things they would not normally do.
What can we do to help the people of Sandy Hook heal? For one thing, don’t stick cameras everywhere except their homes, as the State Police have asked and posted for them not to do. We can contribute to verified places for any of the legitimate reasons. We can attend candlelight vigils happening all through the state. And we can PRAY. I’ve seen (from people far more educated than I) some suggestions of scripture to guide prayers. I’ve seen Menorahs and crosses in people’s homes, I presume homes of those not directly effected.
Tim Keller – Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan said “One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him.” He also quoted Daniel 12:2,3. Lysa Terkurst, founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, quotes: “Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 24:14
She also quotes from the New Testament for Christian believers: Ephesians 6:8, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (NIV) and Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (NIV). Many writers have quoted Matthew 5:3-10 (NIV)
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The point of these quotes is there is no right or wrong way to pray. Hold the people of Newtown in prayer, whether you use one of the verses quoted above or not. Pray without ceasing, whenever you think of what’s happened. The power of prayer cannot be underestimated. Neither can the power of suppositions.
* Speculating About Adam Lanza’s Mental State By Dr. Harold Koplewicz Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist; President, Child Mind Institute, Huffington Post December 17, 2012 “At this point, any comment on the psychiatric profile of Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old man responsible for these murders, is complete hearsay. We don’t know whether he had a history of psychiatric illness or if had been exhibiting signs of a psychotic breakdown. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped extensive speculation that Lanza had Asperger’s disorder, or a personality disorder, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
Loving and Praying,