Where Does Real Courage Come From?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Remembering Sandy Hook

December 14, 2012, was the crisis at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT. 
In remembrance of that moment,taken from Real Love devotion #33,
we remember….

Sandy Hook
Reflections on 1 John 3:4–6

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
—1 John 3:4–6

He shot and killed his mother.

Then at 9:30 a.m. he shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School. Within seconds, someone called 9-1-1. Within minutes, sirens were heard in the distance as first responders descended on the school in force.

By the time they entered the building, the shooter had already killed himself. The school was out of danger, the rampage over. They soon found six educators including the school principal, dead. They’d been shot. No, more than shot—they’d been slaughtered. And then they came upon the unimaginable, the incomprehensible.

He’d killed children, twenty of them, first graders, six and seven years old. It was December 14, 2012. Twenty miles from our home. We will never forget.

* * *

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 
—1 John 3:4

* * *

There’s a basic rule in life: You don’t touch our children.

When a military power attacks civilians, unarmed and defenseless, we say it’s wrong and cowardly. But how infinitely worse to attack our young. Our Lord has no tolerance for it: “It would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6).

It is sin. It is lawlessness. It is evil.

When Dan Malloy, the governor of the state of Connecticut, arrived in Sandy Hook just hours after the shooting, he said the only thing that could be said: “Evil visited this community today.”

This is exactly what President Clinton said in April 1995 when he had to comfort a grieving nation after the Oklahoma bombing: “To all my fellow Americans beyond this hall, I say, one thing we owe those who have sacrificed is the duty to purge ourselves of the dark forces which gave rise to this evil. They are forces that threaten our common peace, our freedom, our way of life.”1

The president made no attempt to explain the massacre of human lives by focusing on the mental state of the bomber himself. He went deeper. These were “the dark forces” at work in the bomber which “gave rise to this evil.” Almost one hundred seventy people died in Oklahoma, nineteen of them were children in a day care.

No matter how often the secular world tosses the Bible aside, at times like these it expresses exactly what we are feeling. Our politicians, in the face of violence, especially when it’s our children, rise to the microphone and say what the Bible says.

It is sin. It is lawlessness. It is evil.

Kaitlin Roig was there at Sandy Hook. She was teaching a first-grade class when the shots rang out in the classroom next door. Scared, she did what she had to do. She gave them direction. She led them into the bathroom. She told them she loved them and tried, in simple language, to help them understand.

“It’s going to be OK, you’re going to be all right . . . be absolutely quiet . . . there are bad guys out there now. We need to wait for the good guys.”2

It’s that simple: There are bad guys out there who have handed themselves over to the Devil to do what he tells them to do. They practice sin. They practice lawlessness. They force the rest of us to struggle “not against flesh and blood, but against . . . the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

There are bad guys out there. Evil guys.

You don’t touch our children.

* * *

You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
—1 John 3:5

* * *

The good guys came.

Without the sound of those sirens and the immediate intervention by the first responders, there is no imagining how many more teachers and children would have died that day at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In the same way, there is no imagining what our lives would be like if the Good Guy Himself did not come to Bethlehem that first Christmas morning.

He is the sound of the siren. He is the One who has come to deal with those who practice sin, lawlessness, and evil. He has come to end the Devil’s reign over us—purging us from the dark forces that give rise to evil—and usher in the day of justice.

This is exactly what we need to hear when our children have suffered. President Clinton, in the days after the Oklahoma bombing, urged this point: “Let us teach our children that the God of comfort is also the God of righteousness. Those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind. Justice will prevail.”3

Justice always prevails in the Lord, whether now or in the time to come, and not only in the massacres of Sandy Hook and the Oklahoma bombing, but in all cases where injustice violates our children, the helpless, the poor, and the outcast.

Thank God, the Good Guy came!

Thank God that we can now see the face of the Shepherd, as described in Psalm 23, standing in “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4). He is there in our suffering. His hands, His feet, His side bear the marks. He died for us. He suffered for us.

The sounds of His siren are loud and unmistakable: Justice always prevails!

* * *

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
—1 John 3:6

* * *

The world media descended on the little town of Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The outrage over the killings could be heard from every corner of the globe. The response was immediate, the judgment decisive.
You don’t touch our children.

But odd as it might sound, as the days and weeks passed after the tragedy, I found myself feeling strangely good about myself and the world I live in. The shooter had proven the point again: There are bad guys out there. This is what they look like. This is what they do. In sharp contrast, I am not like that.

We are not like that.

An avalanche of kindness burst on the little Connecticut town as people gave generously, sacrificially, to comfort the grieving families and community. The nation, the world, mourned as we watched on TV the small caskets taken to the churches and then to the cemeteries.

We wept because we care.

There are good guys in this world! This horrible tragedy helped unite us in our outrage, in our fierce determination to protect our teachers and children, and in our resolve to never let this happen again.

There are forces of evil in this world.

There are bad people who do bad things, who practice sin and lawlessness and evil and they must be stopped, no matter what it takes. Oppression must stop. Violence of any kind must cease. Justice must prevail.

And it’s not me.

I am no shooter. I am no bomber. I am not one of the bad guys. That’s how I felt. For a brief moment in time, it made me feel strangely good about myself. I saw the world through the lens of one of Kaitlin Roig’s first-grade students.

Hearing the gunshots. Huddled scared in the bathroom. Praying, waiting for the Good Guy to come from heaven and deal with the bad guy. Having no understanding, none at all, that when He came for the bad guy, the bad guy was me.

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John 15:1-11, the Vine and the branches. "Is He everything to you?