The recent appalling events in Uvalde Texas and Highland Park are too painful for parents to contemplate. Which of us has not heard that terrifying voice that asks, "What if your child were one of the victims?" or, maybe even worse, "What if your child were to become a shooter?" Most of the time we can push that voice away from our conscious thinking, and we should--we cannot live life in fear of evil, because that in itself brings a kind of evil, robbing us of life as it is meant to be lived.
Another part of us always cries out to understand the why of such events. What could possibly lead a young man to do something so horrible? Why didn't somebody notice the "signs" that he might do this? Why did God allow it to happen? We can never find the answers to these questions, it seems, and this can gradually erode our faith, not only in people or God, but in the possibility of a good life for us and our children. Is there meaning in a world filled with this kind of senselessness?
This is exactly the time when we must return to the things we believe, and strengthen them. As we pray for the victims of these events and their families, we must pray for ourselves as well, that we don't lose sight of the fact that God created everything good, that the struggle against evil has been with us from the beginning, and that our lives have meaning, not just in this life but in the life to come.
Where do we begin? By building up our own faith. We must allow these tragedies to send us to our knees in repentance for taking God's goodness for granted, then take a moment to think of all the ways in which we are blessed, the large and the small. Resolve to not focus on/complain about the heat, your husband's or wife's irritating habits, your lack of time or money--and instead say "Thank you for air conditioning, a man or woman who loves me, the fact that I have what I need . . ."
Next, pray for a renewed sense of love for your spouse. Look for ways to make his or her life easier. Are you holding things against him or her? If so, ask for forgiveness. Are there things you need to apologize for? Clean the slate. Ask God to heal any hurts you may have allowed to fester in your relationship, and remember that God's mercies are new every single morning.
Recommit yourself to making sure your children know that they are loved. Make eye contact. Snuggle up on the couch and read them a couple of silly books, doing all the voices and noises. Hug them and tell them you love them. They may not understand or care at the moment, but it all adds up--all the small gestures matter.
Get back to teaching them about God--remind them that he made them and loves them! And don't forget that one of the most important demonstrations of your love for them is correction: When they disobey, correct them-- quickly, gently, firmly--and once the drama subsides, remind them that there is nothing they can do that will change your love for them. Don't let your sentimental feelings lead you to forget that they need you to help them overcome their own sinful impulses: Give them firm boundaries so that they learn self-control; help them understand that the world doesn't revolve around them, and help them learn to look outside themselves for meaning and purpose. Find your joy in God, and they'll learn how to do it, too!
Take courage--with both hands. We need courage in these sometimes dark days! Remember: God isn't surprised by the events of this world--he knows the evil in man's heart, and has promised to carry us through difficult times. His purposes, while beyond our ability to understand, are always for our good and his glory--always. Never doubt his love for you and your children. And remember--this life is not the end! We may not see the completion of God's work in this lifetime, but we know that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 8:38-39 We can confidently add to that list "nor any mentally deranged shooter, nor war, nor any superpower, nor economic hardship, nor inflation, nor crazy politicians, etc." The only thing that matters is God's love and power to deliver us from sin and death. And we have that, no matter what.
The world needs you to be a light. You don't have to have all the answers, or a perfect marriage or perfect children. The world needs love, and it needs hope. It needs people who know the truth and live with love and purpose. The world needs families who work through their weaknesses, parents who do their best to lead their children, and children who are learning to demonstrate courtesy, respect, and self-sacrificing love, without fear, even in the face of tragedy.
Build up your faith, take courage, and ask God to restore your hope. Lead your children in confidence that nothing can separate us from his love! He will help you, and use your example to encourage others, because the world needs you!