For this reason, I will not attempt to address how the victims' families, the school community, those who live in Newtown, or others intimately touched by the tragedy should respond. This is their time to grieve, express anger, receive counseling, cry on the shoulders of their loved ones and friends, lean on God for comfort--whatever they need to do for as long as they need to do it.
But what about the rest of us? Now that the initial shock has worn away, how should we respond?Americans collectively have had our psychological skin burned, and healing will take time. We may hold our children closer, express disbelief, or cry out for some kind of justice in the world. Many of us have profound, but ultimately, unanswerable questions. It is easy to get mired in political, moral, and theological debates. We are in pain and prone to feelings of despair and hopelessness.
However, I am convinced that if we can take steps, even small ones, towards honoring the victims, showing compassion, and praying to God, our spirits will be soothed and we can begin to travel the road toward healing. Following are three suggestions--feel free to choose one, two, three, or none. You may have other ideas or ways of dealing with grief. Ultimately, our hearts will guide each of us in how to best deal with this tragedy and look towards the future.
1) NBC News anchor Ann Curry suggests that people perform 26 random acts of kindness in honor of the 26 Sandy Hook school victims.
2) The U.S. Post Office has dedicated a special place to receive cards and letters of condolence for the families of those who perished at the school: P.O. Box 3700, Newtown, CT, 06470.
3) Most importantly, those who are followers of Jesus Christ have the power, access, and obligation to pray. It is good and right to be brutally honest with our Savior. If we are angry at God, we should tell him so. If we want to cry out for him to return quickly and rescue us from this evil and sin-sick world, we should tell him that, too. If we want answers, ask Him. God is big enough and strong enough to handle our most gut-wrenching questions, doubts, anger, and fears.
The prayer suggestions that follow were put together by the Moms in Prayer State Coordinator for Connecticut. She is asking all Christian prayer warriors throughout her state, our nation, and the world to pray in light of what seems to be a senseless and unthinkable tragedy.
I can testify that prayer does make a difference! When I intercede on behalf of others and ask God to comfort those who mourn, I receive comfort as well. When I ask God to be merciful, gracious, and compassionate to families whose lives have been torn apart, I feel his mercy, grace, and compassion resting on me as well. Prayer changes others; but it also changes me.
Prayer requests for Sandy Hook elementary and Newtown:
For the families of those who lost their lives: That they would turn their lives to you, Father. That in their sorrow you would grant them strength and grace to make it through the coming days and months. That mercy and comfort would be extended to their tender hearts. That this Christmas our families that are grieving would recognize the glorious peace and comfort that comes through faith in you.
For the siblings of those who lost their lives: That Our Father would protect them from the enemy of their soul. That they would find comfort in their family and in the knowledge of your great mercy. That Jesus would be present in their sleep and the darkness of their heart would be warmed by His light. That our Abba Father would comfort them during difficult days ahead.
The family of Adam Lanza: That they would not be judged as they mourn the loss of their mother, brother and victims in this tragedy. That the Lord would give the Sandy Hook School families and community strength to forgive. That the Lord would draw the Lanza family into a saving relationship through the blood of Jesus Christ.
The students, faculty and administration of the Sandy Hook Elementary School: For the Lord to bestow mercy to the children's healing hearts as they mourn the loss of their classmates, administrators, teachers and their perceived safety. That Our Lord would restore the school classrooms with spiritual and emotional healing. That children and families would cling to Jesus as their Rock, Fortress and Deliverer. For Christ to be present in the rebuilding of lives and programs in the wake of this tremendous tragedy.
All of our schools and communities across the USA: That we Christian Americans would humble ourselves, pray, seek Our Lord's face and turn from our sinful ways. That the Lord would hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land. That this tragedy would glorify God through a fierce Holy Spirit led cross-country revival. For repentant hearts that would cling to Jesus. We pray that the Lord would raise up women to join the mighty army of prayer warrior moms and grandmas that stand in the gap for our children and schools.
Revival in our schools: That every student would have the opportunity to hear of the grace and mercy afforded to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ. That Christian students would be beacons of Christ's light to those who are living in darkness. For the Holy Spirit to move among the hallways of each school in the United States. For students to respond to God's great love and everlasting peace.