Many of us feel helpless, wondering if all we can do is lift up prayers for those hurting parents in Newtown. Yet prayer is powerful.
Focusing on the issue of the tragedy in Connecticut for a post here at Finding God Daily has been one of the most difficult things I’ve tried to do.
To be honest, I have simply been beyond words, as I think of the terrible pain all those families are in over the loss of their children.
My eldest daughter just graduated as a teacher and has been working with very young children, so felt quite torn up about the Sandy Hook school news.
She and I talked about how difficult it can be to keep balanced when we feel extreme compassion. Our own hearts hurt in grieving for those families we never met, yet can identify with.
To be truly human and care as Christ does, we should feel that pain. Something would be terribly wrong with us if we weren’t grieved by the loss of those children and teacher’s lives.
At the same time, we could so easily grieve permanently at the many terrible things that go on in this fallen world, and feel permanently sorrowful. Finding a balance between caring and praying while not becoming depressed long-term ourselves can be tricky, especially the closer we walk with Christ and as we feel a share of His compassion.
We are thankful, however that we know to lift up our pain–and the pain of others–to our loving Lord, who I am certain weeps for those families.
Many ask why bad things happen to good people. Yet I know from personal experience that it is only by also experiencing pain that good people (though none of us are truly good) are able to feel true empathy, not just sympathy for others. I have far more compassion for someone who has lost a loved one since I too have lost loved ones. If no Christians ever lost loved ones, how could we ever feel that true empathy?
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 New International Version (NIV) states this well:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
The excruciating pain of the loss of a child is very real, so those families DO need prayer. One author friend Lucinda Secrest McDowell, who lives in Connecticut with her pastor husband, suggests this prayer. It’s by Roman Missal, in the book Prayers for People Under Pressure by Jonathan Aitken. and helpful for those who can’t find their own words:
“O Lord God, out of the depths we cry to You. Lord, be attentive to our cry for mercy. At this time of our heartbreaking loss, let us find in Your Son comfort in our sadness, certainty in our doubt, and courage to live through this hour. Make our faith strong, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Lucinda quotes Aitken:
“Sometimes prayers for those who mourn help a great deal. At other times they barely register as a way of softening grief. [the prayer above] opens with a line from Psalm 130: ’Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord.’
St. Augustine wrote of this: ‘When we cry to our Lord from the depths He heareth our cry and the very cry itself suffereth us to move from the bottom.’
What this means, in the context of bereavement, is that praying for those who mourn can start the process of God’s healing and lift them from the bottom of their depths of grief.”
Lucinda asks us to “Please keep praying for those hurting families, our shattered world, lost souls, the hopeless and confused and angry.”
Confidence in prayer comes most naturally when you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Do you need prayer for yourself? Feeling bitter, burdened or grieving?
Hear Linda pray for you aloud, at our sister site GodTest.com, in Prayers.
As painful as it may be to watch, here’s a video on ABC news describing some of the victims and one father’s perspective. I believe that it may help bring to mind those parents who we can all be praying for:
Laurie Winslow Sargent is a firm believer in prayer and that your prayers are heard by a real, loving, and very personal God. To read about some ways God has answered some of her own prayers in times of trouble, click these links: