Yesterday was a hard parenting day for me. In particular late last night I experienced something I’ve never dealt with before and hope to never deal with again. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say my son, who has depression and an anxiety disorder, went to a dark place and was almost swallowed up by it.
As I lay with him in my bed, helping him to calm his breathing and slow his tears, I whispered words of comfort and Truth in his ear. I told him because he had God in his heart, he would be protected. Then we prayed together. I prayed for God’s protection and strength to surround my son. Together we denounced any evil that might try to take over his thoughts or compromise his safety.
And friends, I believed — still believe — with my whole heart that those words I said, the prayer we prayed is true. I believe that God loves my son and will protect him and keep him safe.
But then this morning.
This morning I turn on the radio and hear the updated information from Florida. Seventeen dead.
And I think of the parents of those 17 children. Did they pray the same prayer?
Did they believe with all of their heart that God would protect their son or daughter and keep them safe?
I don’t know for sure, but I would bet some of them did, if not most. And I’m left wondering how we come to terms with the knowledge that 17 innocent lives, lives really just beginning, were taken?
I’ve grappled with that question all morning. Asking myself how I can have such great faith and trust that my son will be protected, while knowing children are dying every day in senseless, tragic ways.
I don’t really have an answer for that. You can call it blind faith. You can call it naivety. You can call it illogical or unfair. You can call it luck or privilege.
Call it what you will.
I guess if I had to choose one word to call it, it would be Hope.
I know deep down that every day is a gift. I have lost loved ones too soon. I have attended the funerals of children. I have sat in hospital rooms with my husband waiting for test results, wondering if we would both leave the hospital. I do know that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. None of us. Including my son or daughters.
I also know God loved us so very much He offered us free will and with that free will the devil schemes and takes advantage and sometimes, yes sometimes, he wins the battle. It can happen to any one of us. Any one of our children.
But yesterday I also watched friends and neighbors support my daughter and her efforts to raise money to go and do missions work in the Dominican Republic. I saw people loving on and caring for my Grandma. I had a conversation with a teacher who expressed such deep love for my child and my family it left me in tears. So while evil was attacking my son last night, hope was there, too.
While evil was taking lives in Florida and around the world, hope was there, too.
Hope sat with the teacher who hid students in a closet and kept them safe.
Hope sat with the police officers, first responders, and hospital staff that worked so diligently to evacuate and secure the school property, apprehend the gunman, and care for the wounded.
Hope sits with all of us who wipe our eyes, raise our fists, and shout “Enough!” While we rally together to stand-up and demand change from our elected officials.
Hope is there, even when we can’t see it or feel it.
For as much as I love words, I am surprisingly bad at knowing what to say in the face of tragedy, especially to those who have lost so deeply. I honestly don’t know what I could say to the parents of those 17 students or the 1,000s of other children who have lost their lives in senseless tragedies like this. I just don’t know that there is anything that could be said that would amount to more than wasted breath and empty words to their broken hearts.
But we can love them. We can hold in our arms the ones we know personally, and hold up the ones we don’t in prayer.
We can look at the photos and read the stories of their precious children and remember them.
We can refuse to forget, to move on, or to become numb.
We can demand change.
And yes, yes, I know it’s been said and heard so many times it’s beginning to sound trite. But I do believe in the power of prayer. And I believe we are not only fighting a physical war that requires more intervention, awareness, access to mental health care, and restricts access to firearms, but we are also fighting a spiritual battle. One that requires we get on our knees and pray for protection over our children, our neighbor’s children, our community’s children, our nation’s children. It requires we hold on to Hope and to each other.
Satan may have won the battle, but God will win the war.
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)
If you are wanting to take action to stop the senseless violence in America, but don’t know where to start, I encourage you to check out this website: https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/ organized and run by parents who know too well what it means to lose a child to gun violence.