“These are the times that try men’s souls.” -Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine wrote these infamous words in the midst of a very physical war. But the reason they rang so true, and still do today, is that they speak to another war going on beneath the surface.
This war is a spiritual one. It’s waged in the caverns of the human soul, and on the plains of the heart.
And it’s all too real to the people of Newtown, Connecticut this morning.
There is little I can offer in words for the tragedy. Maybe you feel the same way.
But there’s something we can all offer which can help steer the course to come for the families of the victims and the country as a whole.
We can pray.
Let me offer these points of prayer, and may you join me in lifting them up to God:
- The families: For these people, it will never be OK. It will never be the same. Yes, there is a divine plan unfolding in the midst of this darkness, but it’s too early to see it. Pray for their comfort. Pray for their faith. The days and weeks that follow will be trying, to say the least. May the Holy Spirit bring them peace and understanding only He can give.
- The churches in Newtown and around the country: Like the Sunday following 9/11, there will certainly be those searching for answers in churches around the country this weekend. They’ve already shown up en masse to churches in Newtown. Pray for the Christ followers which are part of those congregations. Pray they would receive them with open arms and warm hearts, bearing all sorts of the love Jesus would show them.
- The pastors of these churches: Certainly no one bears quite the same burden as pastors around the country in times like these. People and families carry hearts so heavy a crane seems unable to lift them. And pastors are the ones called to give meaning to that weight and perhaps begin the process of lifting it. Many will come looking for answers. Pray that pastors around the country will help find them.
- The country: These events have a way of first galvanizing, then dividing the country further. In the beginning, we unite behind a mourning town or city. But it soon unravels into the inevitable gun control debate. All feelings aside on the issue, it’s not the time for more arguing. Pray that the country and its leaders find a way to transcend the politics and be united in our humanity. Speaking of humanity, pray the country would not look for ways to “restore its faith in humanity.” If anything, tragedies like the one in Newtown show us faith in humanity is nothing if not misplaced. Pray that people would instead explore restoring their faith in God.
May you hold your children a little tighter today. God knows, I have.
Photo courtesy: Shannon Stapleton / Reuters