Just like that, it’s happening again. Back-to-school ads are in heavy rotation on television, in magazines, and across our social media timelines, signaling to us that summer is over and fall has arrived. I remember how much anxiety Back-to-school shopping gave my sweet mother. New clothes, new shoes, new braids to start the school year, fresh backpacks and Trapper Keepers. What y’all know about that? Real ones know. Back then, back-to-school shopping and lunch money were the greatest concerns for parents. Now, they have to worry about if their children will make it home alive due to the frequency of mass shootings at schools in the U.S.
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Undoubtedly, the tragic and traumatic ending of the 2022 school year has been seared into my mind and the minds of many others; the images of 19 children and two teachers who were massacred by a gunman at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, remain lodged in our memories. Twenty-one precious human beings with hopes, dreams, aspirations, and purpose—21 lives were cut off from the land of the living. Death is a thief. Murder is a brazen robbery. Burying your child is an incalculable evil and a suffering no one should have to bear. We are not meant to bury our babies.
I do not have children yet, but I do have nieces and godchildren whom I love dearly. One of them is headed back-to-school. So, I can only imagine that this summer, many parents weighed a host of schooling options for their children:
- Do I pull my child or children out of school and homeschool them?
- I’m not a teacher, do I hire a private tutor for my child?
- I can’t afford to take my child out of the traditional school setting, but I fear for their life. What should I do?
These are all difficult decisions parents and guardians should not have to make, but because of the proliferation of guns in the U.S. they do.
During times of crisis, we are tempted to either seek out or dole out pat answers. In the face of great suffering, trite responses seem to abound. But what can any human being say to bring back someone’s child from the grave? Only God can do that, and I am not God.
Silver and gold, I have none, but what I have is the gospel of Jesus Christ. And what I have I give to those who are reeling from this mass shooting and countless others. Depending on where someone is on their trauma journey, this can feel trite, but I know that what might feel trite to some can be a treasure and a balm to others. I walk with the Most High God who is deeply acquainted with this kind of suffering. This God knows what it means for His only son to die a gruesome death and be buried. When all hope was gone, Jesus rose from the dead with eternal life. This is the living hope we have in Jesus Christ.
This is the gospel that sweet nine year old, Eliahna Garcia professed in her final Tik Tok before she was killed at Robb Elementary. Eliahna said, “Jesus, he died for us. So, when we die, we’ll be up there with him. I have three pictures of him in my room.” Her faith has been made sight. Yet my soul cries out because from my vantage point, it’s far too soon for Eliahna to be with Jesus.
Inevitably, the questions come: How can God be good in the face of great evil? God could have stopped it, why didn’t He? Why my baby? I have come to realize that “why” questions are soul cries to which there are no satisfactory answers on this side of heaven. What I know is that the God of justice will do right. And as we await God’s justice to prevail, we are to weep with those who weep, practice presence with those who are suffering, and pray for and act in tangible ways that can bring about a change—one that can stop the frequency of these heinous attacks. This is my offering.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
What feelings are rising to the surface for you as you think about this new school year?Leave a Comment