Saturday, December 22, 2012

Weeping with those who weep. A first-hand response from Newtown

by Joey Newton

The church I pastor is three miles from the site of Friday’s slaughter, where 26 people were murdered. Certainly this event will in some way define and shape the spiritual life of the community for decades to come. I know it will profoundly affect my family; many of those killed were the same age as one of my three daughters.

I spent last Friday in the counseling center the town set up, where families had gathered waiting to hear the names of their child, or to see if any new information came out. At one point an official came in and let everyone know —as best he could—that if their children were still unaccounted for, than certainly they were among those who had been slain. All afternoon there was, understandably, weeping. All I could do was take any opportunity I had to minister grace to them.

“Weeping with those who weep” was the first and obvious biblical command to apply. It was not difficult to do. This event was tragic, and I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child, of waking the next morning to an empty bed that would not be filled again. For those who suffered loss and are not Christians, I prayed that God would reveal himself to them, and point them to Christ. For those who do know the Lord, I sought to encourage them by reminding them that God is still on his throne, and that this—as hard as it is to
 imagine—is part of his permissive will. There is good at the end of this unspeakable evil. Maybe some will come to faith in Christ through this trial. Maybe believers will be encouraged to trust God more deeply, and live for Him more faithfully. We don’t know what the good is, but we know that God’s word promises that for those who are called by God, all things work together for our spiritual good and his eternal glory.

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