I was going to write about a very special lady this evening, Janet’s grandmother Fran. Had she still been with us, we would have been celebrating today – and quite a celebration it would have been – because she was born in either 1900 or 1901 – there seems to be some confusion about which year was correct. And that’s just like Fran – she never wanted anyone to know exactly how old she was – so I guess we are honoring her by keeping it that way. But there’s one thing we can be certain of, and that is the fact that she was a believer and is enjoying eternal life in heaven.
Perhaps Fran was even there when 20 children from Newtown, CT arrived in heaven on Friday. And I’m sure that she wouldn’t mind if I wrote about the children rather than about her life. Because since this tragedy, parents around the country and the world have been hugging their kids a little tighter and thanking God for their safety. But that’s not the case for the families who lost loved ones when a deranged killer murdered his own mother, 6 adults and 20 children before ending his own life at Sandy Hook School, a small school in Connecticut serving kindergarten through 4th graders.
Now we expect adults to eventually die, and Lord knows that the deaths of these adults were premature, but our hearts particularly break when young children, from 5 to 10 years old, lose their lives unnecessarily. It’s bad enough to watch stories of youngsters at St. Jude’s or Riley Children’s Hospital lose their battles with cancer or some other terminal disease. But when a gunman goes wild and starts shooting our youngest generation, it’s almost too much to bear.
As I have written in the past, we don’t understand why God would let such things happen. While we know, as Christians, that God works all things together for good, we certainly can’t see any good in this apparently evil act. Even the father of the gunman was stunned and shared in the grief with the rest of the nation, asking why such a thing happened.
The coroner was asked if any of the children suffered or if the end was swift and painless. He couldn’t look the reporter in the face and promise that the children died quickly without pain. Since two of the students died at a hospital rather than at the scene, we must assume that suffering was a part of the end for a number of those who lost their lives on Friday.
Undoubtedly, there will be some crackpots who will pontificate about whether the kids were saved and going to heaven or whether they will suffer eternal separation from God if they had not professed their faith before their deaths. That’s why I am writing this evening – to discuss the views of Jesus about children.
In Luke 18:15-17, we are told, “People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” So it is apparent that Christ Himself is quite clear that children will receive the Kingdom of God.
Likewise, the first son of King David and Bathsheeba died in infancy. David was grief stricken and had petitioned God to let his son live. But it was not to be. David was asked about the events surrounding the death of his son and his response is noted in 2 Sam. 12:22-23, “He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
So as we can see, David knew that his son would not return from death, but eventually David, at the end of his own life, would be reunited with his son. Theologians throughout the ages have debated about this verse, deciding that David, in fact, did believe in heaven and eternal life.
So while we have no comfort in the tragedy at Sandy Hook, God assures us that the families of these little children will someday be reunited in heaven. Because God protects the eternal lives of those who have not yet professed their belief in our eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to believe in Him. And He wants us to believe with the faith of a child – blind trust. Just like those kids at Sandy Hook who listened to their teachers and followed them out of the school – eyes closed and holding onto the person in front of them. Because Jesus is the one at the front of the line.
My prayer is that you will take a few moments and pray for the families of those who are suffering and struggling this evening. Not only those touched by death, but also the responders and others who witnessed the carnage and will always be changed by the events of Friday. Perhaps God will grant them peace, mercy and grace. Have a great day in the Lord…