When Our Children Are No Longer Safe

psalm34

The events over the weekend have been tragic. Two church shootings on the same day in different parts of the country—the widely reported one in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and another in Fresno, California . Twelve of the twenty-six victims of the Sutherland Springs church shooting were children, the youngest being just eighteen months old. As I read the list of victims and look at pictures of their faces, I can’t help but weep. There but for the grace of God go I. We are not safe anywhere. These people were gathered to worship, just like I am with my family every Sunday.

Precious lives, lives that had hardly begun, snuffed out in seconds. The lives of those left behind forever changed.

As parents, one of our main responsibilities is to keep our children safe. We spend months child proofing the house before the baby arrives. We exhaust ourselves moving furniture and following our kids around the house so they can avoid some of the bumps and bruises that inevitably come with learning to walk. We make sure the car seat is installed correctly so they are safe in our vehicles. As they grow, we become their advocates, standing up to their bullies and encouraging them when they fail. We do our best to protect their hearts from the harsh realities of the world we live in. There is nothing more powerful than a mother’s love for her children. We would lay down our lives for them without question.

These tragic events were once again a reminder to me that we can longer keep our children safe in the way we used to. Our society has become one of unpredictability and pure evil, where even the most sacred places are no longer off limits. The day we live in demands that we surrender the lives of our children into God’s hands. We have no other choice but to give back to Him what He has entrusted to us. It’s time for us to grasp the fact that our children do not belong to us—they are His.

We can spend a lot of time talking about security outside churches, gun control, and mental health. Our humanness demands a solution to the problem. What can we do to prevent this from happening again? Truth is, we have no control over people’s hearts, so we are forced to once again acknowledge that God is in control. Nothing happens without His permission: “A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5, NIV).

God’s plan is so much bigger than ours; He can see what we cannot. It’s easy to say that He is good in times of blessing, but can we say the same in times of tragedy too? I believe we can. In times of devastating trial, God’s Word comes alive, and His Holy Spirit is evident. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NIV).

Scripture tells us that in the last days, men will be brutal, abusive, without self-control (see 2 Timothy 3). We have a sin problem in this world that will not be made right until Jesus comes back and puts it right. Until then, we live every day trusting God for our futures and the futures of our children.

Moms, bring your children close. Love them, teach them, pray for them, fight for them—but hold them loosely and trust the Lord with them. He is able, and He is good.

As a mother of four, the events of this weekend hit my heart deeply. I cannot imagine the pain these families are going through, but I know the One who is able, in some way, to bring beauty from ashes. May it be so.

Lord, help us trust You with the precious gifts You’ve given us charge over. Help us hold them close but hold them lightly, because they belong to You. Help us in the midst of tragedy to say, “It is well with my soul.” We know that You love our children much more than we could ever love them ourselves. Father, bring peace to the communities of Sutherland Springs and Fresno and the families who have suffered such great loss. Be their comfort and peace. Amen.

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