Ok, so here I sit, drenched in news coverage about VTech - I am dismayed, shocked, almost numb to reality that one person, so delusional and angry to the extreme, has the ability to dole out such huge portions of grief and fear. The news media is encircling Blacksburg, VA. There were four different candlelight vigils held in four different locations in the DC Metro area, all with news coverage. It is front cover material for People Magazine, breaking news on every channel, headlined on every area newspaper.
And rightly so.
This is tragic. 33 lives violently taken for no reason (and yes, I included the gunman on purpose. The darkness and pain that must have surrounded and invaded him is shameful and inconceivable. He was still a member of God's creation. I am angry on his behalf for the spiritual havoc that was waged on him. I feel for his family. They have lost, too). Unexpected. Hugely unfair. So much pain. So much fear. Unbelievable. Wrong on so many levels.
Written in smaller print on an online news web page http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18169833/ is information about four bomb attacks that occurred in Baghdad today - 183 killed so far. 183. In one day. That is horrific. 183 names. 183 stories. 183 birthdays that will not be celebrated. 183 smiles that will not be seen again, save photos and memories. And yet, after reading that information, I am not as moved, as shocked, as numb and horrified about this tragedy as I am about the one at Virginia Tech.
Are we ...ok. Am I ....so numb to the constant strife in that land...that I cease to mourn for the lives so violently taken there? Why do the 33 Virginia Tech students and faculty hold all the intensity of grief, and these 183 ... 183 ..people get a mere passing glance by me? They are all innocent victims (except the perpetrators). A mother with her small children, attending to some errand in the city, instantly sabotaged. Terrified. Loss and fear. A father with his son. Suddenly thrown into a war zone not of their making.
Why are we not as moved by their stories? Why did I not see their stories on headlines and news magazines? Obviously, Virginia Tech is local, and Baghdad is not. However...
However... Dear Lord ~ please keep my heart from hardening to the chaos and calamity that surround areas outside of my comfort zone and stomping grounds. May my heart grieve violence against any of your children. The woman with her small children? You know their names. You knew their hopes and dreams. You knew what they had for breakfast. You knew the details of a conversation held between a father and son moments before their world was shattered. Your heart broke for them, too. You hold their tears in the same hands that hold ours here in Virginia. Please don't let me think that my tears are more deserving or significant than theirs. Open my eyes. Widen my heart's horizons to include those I cannot see, those I do not know by name. Please don't let me grow numb to another's suffering.
God, please let my heart beat to Your rhythm, let my eyes see as You see. God, would You please show me the path of compassion and softness. Help me to trust in Your sovereignty, Your justice, Your Truth.
I lift those of Your children who are suffering and struggling under the weight of grief and loss up to You. Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. It takes someone who has experienced that depth of grief to be able to know how to comfort someone else in mourning. Who better to know than You? God, we cling to the promise that you will bring beauty from the ashes, and joy from broken hearts. Come, Lord Jesus, and heal our land. And specifically, please heal me, too. I am in need of Your touch. Amen.
The LORD has sent me to comfort those who mourn, especially in Jerusalem. He sent me to give them flowers in place of their sorrow, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts.