Today I have been watching the news out of Uvalde, TX unfold where an 18-year-old armed suspect entered an elementary school and killed (at this writing) 21 people---nineteen students and two teachers.
My heart is broken... again.
Invariably, my mind goes to my own little guy, who I sent off to school on his bike this morning, and who I got to see come through the door at the end of the day.
But just 160 miles south of where my son goes to school, there are at least nineteen families who can't say the same. They sent their little ones off to school, and they are never coming home again.
My mind went back to December 14, 2010, the day when I heard the news of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, which claimed the lives of 20 children, and several adults.
I wept uncontrollably then as I thought of those precious children's lives being taken by a deranged young man armed with weapons he had no business owning.
And I thought to myself, "Maybe now... Maybe now it will be enough. Maybe now there will be action taken to prevent this from happening again."
Now, I find that I can't cry, even though my heart tells me to. I'm sad, sorry, and angry... really angry.
I still have some moments with God over these kinds of tragedies. I still find myself asking "Why?!!?? Why little children? How could you let this happen?"
But even though I cry out my questions to God, I have come to know better.
God doesn't cause all things, but God is present in all things. God didn't cause this shooting, God didn't even "allow" it as some people might suggest.
It happened because of the sinfulness of a culture that glorifies violence.
It happened because of the sinfulness of greed---the greed of manufacturers who produce hand-held, automatic weapons of mass destruction with impunity, and whose sales increase with every tragedy.
It happened because of the sinfulness of pride---the pride of far too many of our elected officials who care more about holding on to their power than they do about doing everything they can to protect the lives of our children.
It happened because of misguided fear and an obsession with the dizzying paradox of protecting the rights of individuals to create arsenals that are used again and again to destroy the innocent.
It happened because of the sinfulness of a world that still stigmatizes mental illness so much so that far too many people won't get the help they so desperately need, or they don't have the resources to get it.
God didn't cause this. We caused this.
But even in the midst of our sinfulness, there is hope. Because God is present in the midst of the sorrow, and the brokenness of the people of Uvalde, TX.
God is present in the midst of their grief, their loss, and their anguish.
My friends, God is also present in our outrage at this violent and horrific act, because God is love, and love is stronger than death, and it sure as hell is stronger than violence.
Jesus proved that.
And this I choose to believe with all that my heart can muster... that God was with those little ones and their teachers even in the awful last moments of their lives.
I have to believe God was with them because to believe otherwise is too terrible for me to bear.
There's also this... If prayers and thoughts and moments of silence can help---we should keep offering them.
But that can no longer be the extent of our efforts. We need to act. Our children deserve better from us. Enough... enough... Good God Almighty... enough.
And if my words offend you more than the fact of nineteen dead children... in the words of author/artist Carlos Whittaker:
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ cover us all.