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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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46

Friday 20th July 2012

A Christian Response to The Colorado Shootings

Before he leaves the yard in the old blue Ford pickup this morning, my husband comes in the bedroom to wake me with news:

A gunman went on a rampage in an Aurora, Colorado theatre, and at least a dozen people were killed. The darkest of nights. The darkest of knights.

I feel my heart drop into my gut. My ears burn, throat tightens. The whole world screeches with the agony of sin, and the hiss of a very dark enemy. I pull the covers over my head.

I pray, “Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.” Over and over again, I pray that one prayer.

And then, my selfish mortal response: I imagine my own loved ones having been in the theater when the gunman opened fire. I grieve false, incredulous scenarios that suddenly seem plausible because it. really. happened.

I think about the six-year-old who was injured. I imagine that one innocent child, with a bag of buttered popcorn and feet dangling over the edge of the upholstered seat, waiting to see a superhero appear on the screen. Then, real mayhem explodes in a dark theatre … And what caped superhero will wing his way in to make this stop? 

How in the world does this happen?

I think this thought for a moment: I will never take my children to a movie theatre again. Just like I never wanted to step in a plane after Sept. 11, 2001. Or like I never wanted to walk on the college campus where I teach after a gunman opened fire at Virginia Tech.

I want to crawl into a corner, lock windows and doors.

I cry out, “Why?” I do.

What do we say when others look at us, with pointing fingers and howling cries, as if to say: “See, your God cannot be trusted?”

Curled under covers, I think about what I read after September 11, 2001. A pastor said that Christians often experience such tragedies on a more distressing level, because they know that they have believed and trusted in a loving God … a merciful, faithful Father. Some Christians might ask: “Where was He then? Where was my loving God?”

I have cried this one very common question today — WHY, God?  When the rancid stench of sin pollutes the world, why?

But who else am I than this: a hope-filled child of the King, a beggar at the foot of a cross? A person who found the Light in her own dark night?

I have groped in the darkness before. In my own darkness, I have clawed through the pitch to search for something–anything–by which I could see. I know this: People have no light of their own.

The only light known to those who are groping through the dark night is this: The Light of the World. 

So, we do not stay curled under covers, or cowered in corners. We grab our candles, and we run to the world, whispering hope over the broken with a single flame passed: “Here, you will be able to see by this.” 

And on and on the flame goes, one candle at a time, bringing hope to a broken world in need of a Superhero.

The world is looking to people of Light for some kind of answer. They may not believe in our King, but they are looking to see how we respond.

They are not looking for platitudes or pat answers like this: “It was God’s will.”

They are looking for a Light, by which to see.

They are looking for people who understand their grief, but people who do not grieve as the world grieves. They need hope. We have that.

We know the secret, the most sublime secret known to humankind.

My farmer-husband wore a T-shirt with those screenprinted words last night, as we fed the calves. The words on the shirt were these: “We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets …”

We don’t know why this happened. We just don’t. … But we know this God who is putting all things to rights, bringing order to the chaos of this world’s fissured places. He is not only the Creator, but the Redeemer — redeeming all things unto Himself.  We can’t keep that secret.

We carry a light, to guide us into God’s sublime secrets. 

“Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them.”

~ 1 Corinthians 4:1 (The Message)

***

I am so pained by what has happened in Colorado, and I know you are, too. Together, we pray for God’s mercy. Would you be willing to add your thoughts below in the comment box, or a simple prayer … adding flames of light to the dark, dark night?

  • oh my…i had not heard about this yet…tragic…this is so true…”They are not looking for platitudes or pat answers like this: “It was God’s will.”They are looking for a Light, by which to see.”
    Oh God have mercy on us all…and may our lives shine YOUR light…because in the Light is the Love this hurting world longs for. thanks for this…blessings~

    • I’m just heart-broken. So many emotions swirling. I’m just praying that one prayer over and over: “Lord, have mercy.”

      Praying with you, friend. Thank you for being here to share.

  • Thanks for writing this, Jennifer.
    A dear friend’s son was actually shot in the hip at that theatre last night and is in stable condition, although still undergoing surgery. You can pray for him by name — Lucas.

    I will share your words of comfort with his family. Bless you.

    • Oh Kelli … I am praying now for Lucas. By name, yes. I am so sorry. Sending prayers upward, and sending love across the miles to find you and your friends.

  • Sean Gladding

    jennifer,

    what i’m waiting to see is if God’s people will say ‘enough.’ to say ‘enough. no more sales of automatic weapons that make this kind of tragedy possible – no matter the motivation/mental illness of the killers.’ after the Dunblane massacre in the UK, the government banned the private ownership of handguns. since 1997 there has been only one other mass shooting in the UK. “do not kill” is not just a commandment for individuals: it is a commandment for a people. so, when will we the church say, ‘enough’, and work to see an end to all sales of automatic weapons?

    • Hi Sean,

      A God-Thing… I was thinking of you and your book when I wrote this piece this morning. Thinking about how this fits into the “story of us,” all this brokenness, painfulness.

      And this one quote: “Sin is not just something I do. Sin is social; it always impacts the whole community. It impacts the whole universe.”

      Perhaps that’s another way of saying what you said above, about “do not kill” being a commandment for a people??

      I appreciate your thoughtful response here, Sean.

    • Stephanie Doeschot

      I pray that that day will come soon. After the tragic shootings in Tucson, I was so dismayed that many were not willing to see that we simply cannot be considered a civilized society while we make it so easy for mentally unstable people to secure arms. I earnestly pray that we will “get it” that we must take corporate action for the good of the whole and of individuals. And yes, we in the church need to lead the way!

  • Oh Jennifer…thanks you for writing this this morning. My hubby came in and broke the news to me too and my reaction was much the same as yours.

    How true your words “We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know who hold tomorrow” really are. Coming to to terms with the fact that our ways are not His ways can leave us writhing with so many questions…many left in a “mystery file”. My prayers and heart go out to all who are involved.

    Dear Lord Jesus,
    As we stand confused and saddened by this horrible tragedy please remind us of your promises. Promises to never leave us or forsake us. Help us to not be afraid to live the lives that you have called us to live knowing that it is You that has us in the palm of your hands. Please be with each of the victims and their families and bring them your peace and light as they moved past this terrible tragedy. In your name alone, Sweet Jesus…..amen.

    • Praying that very prayer, right now, with you, (((JULIE)))) … Thank you.

    • Amen

  • Susan Tjaden

    I found out about this tragedy from my 17-yr-old at 3am, as she was just coming home from the midnight premier in Colorado Springs. My son was also at the premier, 100 miles north of here. My stomach turned inside out as I imagined “What if it were MY kids in THAT theater?” I literally had nightmares about it after that. My heart aches for all the families of the victims, those who were injured, those who were witnesses, and those who are even just a little bit emotionally scarred from this. May God be their Superhero today. Indeed.

    • Yeah, my son was at the midnight show, too, but here in Texas. I mean, it could have been him and his friends.

      • Pamm Muzslay

        My daughter and son-in-law had planned to be in THAT theatre for THAT showing but decided against it because my son-law had to work Friday morning. I’ve been praising God all morning for their safety, but then sobered by knowing that not every mom can do that tonight. Heartbreaking.

      • Anonymous Christian

        Hi there, Megan, I wanted to humbly ask you a question because i am trying so hard to understand why people would go to such an awful dark movie. I have no idea how old your son is or if you or he is a believer, but if he is, why is it okay to see such movies? Please know that I am totally curiouis and trying to understand. You don’t have to answer, I just would really like to know.

    • Anonymous Christian

      Hi there, Susan, I also asked Megan this question. I wanted to humbly ask you a question because i am trying so hard to understand why people would go to such an awful dark movie. I have no idea how old your son is or if you or he is a believer, but if he is, why is it okay to see such movies? Please know that I am totally curiouis and trying to understand. You don’t have to answer, I just would really like to know.

  • Nancy

    Jennifer, thank you for writing this to comfort our hearts that are struggling to understand something that is not at all something that we will ever understand. This morning one verse keeps running through my mind. Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The reference to the “dark world” in this passage reminds of the the title of movie The Dark Knight Rises, which in many ways became reality last night. Your challenge to be lights in the dark night and to point people to the Light of the world resonates within me. I am challenged, comforted and encouraged by your post as well as many of the comments from others above. Julie, your prayer is my prayer.

  • So beautifully written — my heart goes out to all involved — may they find peace in the days ahead. I can’t even imagine their pain at this time.

  • Jillie

    Jennifer…Thank you for putting into words what so many of us are thinking today. I just keep asking myself, “When will this ever end?” We have had a rash of shootings this week in Toronto too, the worst being at a block party where neighbours were enjoying one another. They believe it to be gang-related. At times like this, we can fall into despair, or we can lift our broken hearts to the One Who sees it all, and grieves with us. We may never have answers, but we do know it is the deceitfulness of sin in the human heart that drives these people to do unspeakable acts.
    Dear Father in heaven…so many people are in shock today. So much pain. God of all comfort, comfort every heart. Send your people to minister hope in what seems hope-less. Cause your miraculous Light to shine into this darkness, and give Hope again to all who grieve this day. Amen.

    • A beautiful prayer, Jillie. Whispering my Amen here.

  • I’m still on bed, freshly heard the same news you posted from my husband. I said the same thing…”It is sad….because such evil acts create fears that can paralyze. Then what? People would be afraid to enjoy the freedom they know…” But thanks be to our good Lord. His Word tells us that fear is not from Him. Those who know Him are given power instead! Power that will help those who love God to press on and bring His hope and light to dark areas of the world.

    I worked many nights…passing by a lot of dark hills. Until the areas changed & some construction happened. One night at a time, I saw one light occurring after another. One dark part was illuminated…until I realized that area became brightly lit! And I often wondered…how great it would be…for those dark areas to be lit up and could mirror the many shining, bright stars from above.

    I used to be afraid. Like not trusting others easily because of the pain they caused me. I learned to build walls around my heart to protect it from pain and being broken again. But when I finally trusted Him and let Him in, He made me realize that those walls did not protect me. They hurt me even more. Because I made myself a “prisoner”.

    Jesus prayed for the disciples…for God not to take them from this world. But for God’s protection from the evil one…

    If God is for us…who can be against us?

    • I’ve been praying those verses, rcubes, from Romans 8. Praying them right with you …

  • Elaine

    Oh, that God would shine through our lives. That we would be the people that He has called us to be. That the world would be drawn to Christ, the light, the only hope. One day everyone will stand before God. May I be found faithful.

  • I usually visit some online friends before clicking over to the news sites. This is so, so sad, miss JDL.

    Miss Kelli – I will pray for Lucas as well.

    Blessings.

  • This so sad. It all makes my heart hurt. Thanks for the community you provide here Jennifer. Praying is action we are taking to help and lift others.
    Praying for Lucas as well, Kelly.

  • Jennifer, this is beautiful. Life and hope in difficult times.

    I posted about it too, today.

    http://everydayordinarydawnings.blogspot.com/2012/07/what-god-sees-in-dark-knight-movie.html

    • Hi Dawn … I look forward to reading your words of comfort. You’re a light, my friend.

  • Oops, I meant to say LIGHT and hope. You shine them both bright, Jennifer. XO

  • Jennifer, tender, fragile, beauty in your words today. Grateful for your very tender and loving spirit which shines light in this world. Today, I hope and pray. And today I believe in a God who Is Love, and who is Mercy. And maybe on a tomorrow we might see God’s redemptive power in the pain of this day. Resting in the things I know to be true about God’s character and who I KNOW Him to be. Unshaken by His unfailing love. God bless you and God bless those touched by this.And Lord give us all we need to be Light bearers in this world. Hoping with you for peace…..

  • I will never forget travelling home from Ft William and learning about a shooting which had taken place that same day in Dunblane, Scotland (this was back in 1996)…. Sixteen primary school children and their teacher were shot dead and very many young children were left traumatised by the incident. It shook the core of the Scottish population as we tried to come to terms with this evil which had happened in one of our schools. What caused a man to take a gun to these beautiful, innocent babies? It was heart-breaking. It was on our shores and it hurt… it hurt bad. The nation mourned. Recalling this incident brings tears to my eyes. Your post reminded me of thoughts which I had at the time too… I also wondered what I would have felt like if it had been my young nieces caught in the snare of this gunman. I actually backslid in my heart towards God for a couple of years after this happened. I could not understand why God did not step in and prevent this tragedy.

    I am so sorry for what you are experiencing… I empathise with your pain.

    We live in a fallen world and sadly, these things happen when people’s hearts are far from God.

  • It was heart wrenching to wake up to this story today. Dozens of lives will never be the same. There is no escaping it. But I suppose I shouldn’t want to try to escape or hide under the covers either. I will instead be praying for a solution, an end to the violence, for peace and comfort for those who survived and for strength for the loved ones of those who didn’t.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words of comfort and hope.

  • Pam

    My jaw dropped when I read this news online this morning. “What in the world is going ON, Lord,” I prayed. Once again. I thought about being in the one night showing for Singing in the Rain last week, how joyful that was, and how it would never in a million years occurred to me that this sort of thing could happen.

    O Lord, only you know how to pour yourself out on all the hearts so broken tonight…bring healing out of this unspeakable chaos. Be with all those who were there, all those who have lost loved ones, the mother of the shooter, even the one who did this. Bring your Spirit revival to this nation. Somehow let your face shine from those of us who love you…Keep leading us out of this darkness to you… Help us not to walk in fear, but with you as our shield. O God, I know your heart breaks most of all…

  • I think this was all on our minds today. The pain in unimaginable. But I kept coming back to the thought that but for God’s grace, this would be every day. We are lights. It’s time to live it and to be ok with saying “I just don’t know” when it comes to trying to explain away the mystery of God.

  • Wendy

    Thank you so much for your sweet words. They have been beyond me all day today as my heart hurt. I was especially gripped by the thought of all the children in the theater. Those tinies that before today thought that things like this only happen in a movie where a superhero wins out in the end. Today their reality changed and that to me is so very sad. I found that all I could pray today was “Lord please…”

  • Justin cibin

    I pray for the right words to share tonight, but all I have is hope and faith that Jesus will comfort and guide our brothers and sisters in Colorado.

    Its unbelievable the evil we face and will continue to face.

    Jesus said, i am the good shepard. I know my sheep and my sheep know me. My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them from my hand.

    I pray tonight that Jesus comforts the families…

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Oh Jennifer! I so appreciate your words of hope and healing here, leading us to the God who lights our darkness. Today, with the shocking shootings in Aurora, it seemed like all light had been snuffed out. Thank you for not telling us why this happened. How can we possibly know? Instead, you have humbly pointed us to the One in whom there is no darkness, to the One who heals our darkness.

    “There are only two ways of spreading light–to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Jesus is the Candle, and you have been a mirror today, reflecting His light to those devastated by this senseless, horrific rampage. And “as one small candle may light a thousand,” I pray that what you have written here will kindle thousands of candles for Jesus–shining, beaming, blazing, consuming the all-pervasive darkness. Even one pin prick of light dispels darkness. Jesus, Light of the world, overcomes it. May our Lord Jesus Christ shine deeply this day with the healing warmth of His radiance. May He wipe away every wrenching tear. May He cradle every breaking heart. May I also say how much I strongly concur with the comments of Sean Gladding? They are not “politically”correct in a number of Christian circles, but they are truth–they are light.
    P.S. Isn’t it amazing that aurora means first light of day, dawn, dayspring? And Jesus is the “dayspring from on high who has visited us.” He has already risen over Colorado this day. And He will be there tomorrow, too.

  • “People have no light of their own…
    We carry a light to guide us into God’s sublime secrets”.

    We can’t explain tragedies like this with platitudes, but only with truth: that people have no light of their own. Yet we carry a light, a hope that the world needs, the answer to our soul’s deepest need.
    An excellent post!

  • Vicki Musselman

    Thank you for your honesty and thanking you for speaking truth of our role as children of the King. I felt such sadness all week for the condition of this world and then yesterday….and then I struggled with feelings of guilt because I was thankful that my sister and her family were not there that night, yet so sad for those who were. I felt guilty for wanting to ask God, “why?” Today is a new day in which His mercies are new and we must remind ourselves of the truths we know to be true about Him so that His light does shine. I apprecaite you heart Mechele-Lyn.

  • Looking to The Light, these words come…

    “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; and I don’t give as the world gives. Let not your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

    My prayer for all in this…

  • You said one thing that is a constant prayer-focus for me, always and always. He is our Redeemer. [Restorer, Renewer, Receiver, Revealer, and many more “R” names.] We might never quite understand the “whys” and “hows” when these horrific events occur either locally or worldwide. But He does not just shrug and back off and say, “Oh, well…”. He will pour forth HIS spiritual healing power. The spiritual warfare Christians in that area will be the strong prayers at this time, I think. They will have a straightforward understanding of their location in a way we, outside the area, might not. But we can do exactly what you were doing at first…cry to Him, “Lord have mercy…”.

    We can rely upon Him. That’s all we have in this world.

  • Tom

    Yesterday I contacted a pastor friend in Aurora. No one from their church was injured or killed, for which he was very thankful. Phil is a fire department chaplain and he asked me to pray for the first-responders: police, firemen, ambulance personnel and everyone at the hospitals… These people do an incredibly difficult job and need our thanks and prayers as well…

  • I live a few miles from where this happened. And of course, everyone asks, “why.” Evil has always existed. We are just finding new ways to express it.

  • My heart also grieves for the senseless loss of life. Society is feeling the results of our life style and perspective. I have little doubt that they’ll find out that this kid grew up playing violent video games and has an entitlement attitude.

    As a Christian I have a normal emotions… I’m angry and the man needs to be killed, not in emotion, but in obedience.

    I’m also disturbed by people who use this situation to further the cause of gun control, especially people like Sean above who is a brother in Christ.

    To use a partially statistic is troubling… The year after the UK banned guns, violent crimes went up by over 2000%.

    What if the one of the people, or better yet, the service men in attendance had a gun?

    There was a bumper sticker in the 70’s, “Guns cause crime like flies cause garbage.”

    After I prayed for the victims and the families of the victims, I realized we need to pray too for wisdom. Wisdom to use the minds that God born us with. To think, not be told what to think.

    • Dayna DeLaVergne

      floyd, I agree that it is very disturbing that these types of unspeakable atrocities always result in renewed cries for gun control. And, yes, if there had been armed folks in the theater, the story would have been much different. Guns can be used to further justice just as well as they can be used for evil.

      Thank you for speaking up.

  • Praying and so deeply touched by your words here today.

  • oh friend. i don’t have answers. but i agree with you, it is about the light. it is about our love lighting up the darkness. that is all i know. and i would have thought that too, initially: no more movie theatres. this makes me long, long, long, for heaven… and how i’m praying for the parents of that six-year-old.

  • Dayna DeLaVergne

    Jennifer,

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts in such a beautiful way–as always. You give me hope that we CAN do something…each of us in our own small way can be light.

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