By: Rebeccah Sinclair
I got up that morning, and like many mornings, I started my routine of chasing small children around the house, changing diapers, getting children dressed and fed. I don’t watch the news. Like many, in 2020, when my anxiety was high and my mental health was on the decline, I went to my husband and said, “I can’t watch the news anymore. You keep up to date on what is happening and let me know if something happens that I need to know about.” So, most days, I am oblivious to what is happening. Then there are days when social media erupts in a flurry of comments, opinions, responses, and updates on one news topic. On this day, it was the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Uvalde Forces Us to Consider our Own Children
In between feeding children, homeschooling, naptimes, more diaper changes, and cleaning up messes, I read articles and updates on those in the school that day. Nineteen children. Two adults. I started reading the short biographies of the children who had been shot. Things they had accomplished, sports they played, activities they were interested in. The family they left behind. The cousins who killed next to them. My daughter is seven. I didn’t want to think about it, but does any parent read this information and not think of their own children!?
There are Lives Forever Changed in Uvalde
I homeschool. But all over the country, some parents are getting their children ready for bed, knowing what happened, and wondering how they are supposed to send their children to school in the morning. There are family members whose lives have been completely and forever changed by the loss of their brother, sister, son, daughter, cousin, mom. Along with many around the country, my heart aches for these families with a pain that resonates deep within, to the core of my being. Like many people we see responding on social media, I want that pain to go away. The suffering to end. The senseless killing of innocent children to stop.
The Tragedy in Uvalde Generated a Whole Spectrum of Reactions
People all over social media are responding to what has happened in Uvalde. Many are using this as an opportunity to stress a particular political step or agenda. Gun control. Mental Health Awareness. We have heard it all before. Are we surprised we are hearing it again? While many might look to politicians or experts on these topics for answers and security, the reality is these individuals have never been able to address these issues. Throughout history, every civilization has struggled with the same problems, yet none have been able to make them go away. Are we so arrogant to think after thousands of years, our generations in America suddenly have an epiphany to make it all stop?
It’s Not Going to Stop after Uvalde
As parents, we know that it is not going to stop. The Bible is clear that the world is currently under the rule of Satan. In John 12:31 and 14:30, we see Satan as the “prince of the world,” and in 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan is referred to as this world’s god. Consider Matthew 4, where Satan “tempts” Jesus with ruling over “everything He sees” on Earth. This could only be a temptation if Satan could fulfill the promise. Thus, reinforcing the idea that he rules in this world.
We Live in a Broken, Fallen World
The Bible frequently refers to the challenges and suffering people will endure and that while we live in a sinful world, there is no escaping that. Since no one on Earth is perfect, there will be no perfect politicians, no perfect mental health professionals, no perfect policies, no perfect treatment, and thus no perfect resolution or answer.
It’s a heartbreaking truth. We live in a broken, lost world. We will continue to experience heartache, loss, and suffering. Our hearts will break into pieces. Our loved ones will pass. We will lose parents, children, brothers, and sisters. We will cry fountains of tears, and there will be times when we ache so badly that we can’t get out of bed. When we must force ourselves to go on when every ounce of our being wants to stay under the covers, our body feels like lead, our brain is turned off, and we move on autopilot and feel numb to everything around us.
So Then, How do we Have Comfort?
It can be so disheartening, overwhelming, depressing, and even mentally and physically exhausting to think we are here, and what might feel, at times, to be a terrible nightmare will continue until the Lord returns. Yet, our God never hides the truth of pain and suffering. Never once in the Bible does God tell His people, “Don’t worry. It’s not so bad. You just have to move on. Let go. You’ll be fine.” He doesn’t say, “I’ll never give you more than you can handle.” He doesn’t say, “it happened for a reason.” God does not offer us empty words of comfort.
The Lord is Close to the Brokenhearted in Uvalde
In line with this, neither do His faithful followers. Frequently in the Bible, we read a depiction of suffering that many of us today can connect with. David, in Psalm 34:18, writes, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” And Psalm 147:3 writes, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
My personal favorite that has given me comfort through many times of pain and sadness is Psalm 56:8, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Those who know David know the loss and pain he went through. These are not the empty words of someone who did not experience suffering. Someone offering false comfort. These are the words of a man who experienced pain, lost much, and suffered at the hands of the people he trusted.
Amid Our Suffering, We can Know that God is There
God knows and understands that pain and wants us to turn to Him for comfort. While we know that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), don’t mistake this to mean that only “good things” happen. On the contrary, “all things” includes the good, the bad, the painful, the ugly, and the scary things.
“All things” includes the overwhelming things, the anxiety-inducing things, and the heartbreaking things. It does not stop the terrible things that have happened and it won’t bring back our loved ones or make the pain we are experiencing go away. Despite that, He is present. He is the One who can listen when you need to vent. He is the One who will wrap His arms around you when you need a hug. And best of all, He is the only one who can offer an actual promise of future hope and peace.
In Revelation 21:4, we are told, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” God promises us an eternity of extraordinary peace and joy. We are promised an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:3-4). While the pain and suffering here on Earth will never go away until Christ’s return, we can rest in the expectation that it will come and what we know now will end.
What Do We Do?
As parents, there are several steps that we can and should take, not only in these times of extreme trial and pain but every day of our lives.
- Speak truth to your kids. They need to know truth and be equipped to share it with their friends and family.
- Share the Gospel. We never know when someone’s last day on Earth will be, and the Great Commission calls us to share the Truth of Christ with others.
Don’t Hide Your Grief from Your Kids
They will feel grief in life and need to know that you have as well. It will allow them to come to you more easily with their hurts when they see that you have also experienced pain. They are uncomfortable with our tears, but that’s ok. They need to see our hurts and watch us turn to Jesus for strength.
Be involved as a family. Kids learn when they are engaged in what you are doing. You want them to experience Jesus’ love in action – take them with you. We live in a broken world, but it’s our world to take care of, and we can do that as a family. While we know that it will never be perfect, we should not ignore the need to make changes. Talk with your kids about how, as a family, you can make a difference in the world around you.
A Closing Thought on Uvalde and Grief
There may always be pain, suffering, and sadness in our world, but that does not mean we are helpless or alone. We are called to comfort one another in these times and draw near to Christ. We are called to live with eternity in mind.