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. Ephesians 6:12
Friday was a pretty good day for me. The office was quiet and I was able to get a lot of good work done. The sun was shining and the world from my little isolated spot on the hill was a joy, but elsewhere, that was not the case. I’ve cut myself off from the endless streams of media that seem to invade this world with its sensationalism and critical analysis of every move we make. I just don’t have the stomach or the desire for it. So I was unaware of the terrible atrocity that had taken place in Connecticut until much later when I chose to check in with my Facebook friends as I grabbed a late lunch. There I found the news plastered in numerous pleas for prayer by most of my FB friends and the righteous outrage of others. I consider it a blessing from the Lord that I didn’t learn of this until late because at my slow introverted pace of digesting information, the entirety of the news didn’t hit until Saturday morning when I was alone and able to deal with the grief that had surfaced in me in empathy for those mothers and families that had lost their children to tragedy. Though I can never know the depth of their pain, I do have some experience at losing a child to tragedy.
I was careful to limit my exposure to the ongoing retellings, updating, and just plain prying into the lives of those who needed our support and prayer rather than our curiosity and badgering. What I noticed among those pleas for prayer and the lists of names of those killed was a very obvious omission. In all those pleas and lists was missing the name of the shooter’s mother, who was killed just before in her home – clearly the first victim of the day and of course the shooter. The first time I saw any mention of praying for the family of this person who did this horrible thing was in a report on CNN’s website on Sunday morning from a victim’s father who “offered his condolences to all the families affected. ‘This includes the family of the shooter,’ he said. ‘I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family, and our love and support goes out to you as well.’”
My heart breaks for the families who can no longer hold their children in their arms and who will be struggling to celebrate Christmas in just a few days amid the unopened presents of those who have been taken from them. But the family of the young man who did this have lost a daughter, sister, wife, mother and yes, a son, brother, nephew, and grandson. They will have to live with the stigma of those few moments Friday morning when all hell broke loose at the hands of their loved one. They won’t receive the kind of support and love that the other survivors will. At the grocery store and doctor’s offices, in their neighborhoods and clubs, people will see them as the family of the shooter instead of a grieving family. I am asking you to put aside your outrage and pray and support this family too.
Over the next few weeks (unless some other unbelievable atrocity occurs) we will most likely hear all kind of conjectures of why this happened. We’ll hear stories of bullying and family issues, shyness and maybe someone will even explain how this young man’s place on the spectrum of autism played a part in it all. According to CNN, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police stated that “detectives will certainly analyze everything and put a complete picture together of the evidence that they did obtain, and we're hopeful -- we're hopeful -- that it will paint a complete picture as to how and why this entire unfortunate incidence occurred." Already, the ever incessant debate of gun laws has reared its ugly head. There will be no end to ‘if he didn’t have access to guns…’ and ‘if the adults in the school had had a gun…’
This is a dark world we live in. From the very beginning, the Evil One has manipulated and deceived us in his rebellion against of the Lord. You may not feel comfortable talking about Satan or demons and spiritual warfare, and believe me, he loves that! He takes great joy in humans taking ownership of and explaining away his evil devices as we try to rout out, and thereby in the future control, the psychological, sociological and physical aspects of the human mind and will that he so expertly and quietly manipulates from behind the veil of the spiritual realm. He thrives on the chaos he creates and he loves that we take the credit for it because if we credited him, we would have to admit that the spiritual realm and warfare is very real and very much beyond our abilities. We can’t control it, so we take the easy way out and deny it. But if we are willing to admit the root of evil that devised and undergirded the terrible violence that took place in Connecticut, then we are identifying and able to stand against the real enemy of innocence everywhere. I’m not saying the young man isn’t responsible for his choice and actions. I’m saying he was another pawn in Satan’s war against God. If we openly recognize the devil as the source of violence and chaos, we could stand against him in the power of God and run him out of our homes and our communities in the name of Him who has already secured victory – Jesus Christ.
I recognize this atrocity as the work of the evil one and ask Jesus to step in and crush the head of the one he has already defeated in his death and resurrection. I know Jesus will bring light, hope, joy and peace to a broken world shattered by the sounds of crying mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, especially in a little town somewhere in Connecticut that I never heard of until two days ago. You think the enemy would have learned his lesson the first time he tried this - When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." Matthew 2:16-18.
Joseph was warned of the danger (like a gunshot echoing through a hallway) and escaped with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. Innocent babies and toddlers were slaughtered all in an effort to extinguish the Light of Heaven before He cast out the darkness through his life, death and resurrection. Jesus was born, a helpless babe, at night into a dark world bringing with him the hope, peace, joy and love we celebrate during Advent. He is the Light of God we worship on Christmas Day. To the normal human eye, Jesus looked like just any other innocent child, but to those whom God chose to reveal the mystery, those able to see through the veil to the spiritual realm, they saw the angels and the face of God in a manger of that little town.
As my intent is always to offer hope in this blog, I will offer the hope I have. Amid the grief and tears of empathy this week and in facing the darkness of this world in the coming year, I choose to focus my eyes on the Christ Child, the Light of the World, Jesus – the very same Jesus who lives and rules in my heart and who will shine the light of love and grace in and through me…and you, if you ask him to.