I am sure that by now you all have heard of the horrible school bus wreck that happened yesterday, Monday November 21st, 2016 in Chattanooga, TN. It feels as though everyone was just getting to a place of putting, at least part of the pain, from the shooting that occurred over a year ago in Chatt behind them. Why is it that when we think we are at a good place, a place of moving on, a place of some small healing, another tragedy strikes? And around the Holidays no less!! If you believe that we aren't under attack you have been fooled. I don't mean under attack as in military, I mean attack as in Spiritually.
In the last year, and I know I won't be able to list them all, there was the Orlando Shooting at Pulse, the shooting of Christine Grimmie also in Florida.The attacks on Paris at the theatre and then in it's streets on Bastille Day. Isis, basically everywhere. Shootings in theaters, elementary schools, college campus', military reserves, bombings at marathons, Election 2016 and it's after math of protests. The pipeline protest, the bus wreck in Chattanooga and the list goes on and on. If you look at the world we are living in and for one moment think that we aren't under attack, you are looking with your eyes closed.
Local News 8 Facebook
As believers we shouldn't be all that surprised by the happenings going on around us. As believers we have been called, prior to these events, to be prayer warriors for our country, it's leadership, citizens and for our international neighbors. As believers in the midst of tragedy we have already been prepared to carry peace in chaos. In our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we received not only the gift of salvation and forgiveness, but we also received the gift of a peace that passes all understanding, (Philippians 4:7 - KJV - And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.). We do not walk alone in any part of our journey. He is always WITH us. He has ALWAYS gone before us. There should be a peace that comes to us with this knowledge. There should be a peace within us that shines outwardly to others who might not know Him, but are in desperate need of a touch from Him.
Reading and watching the varied news reports on this most recent tragedy in Chattanooga my heart almost no longer knows how to react. I don't want to say that it is going numb or becoming something expected, but I think that it is a situation where I am not longer surprised by tragedy. I think that at this point, I wake up expectant of something new and heartbreaking to be in my news feed. I hurt. My heart breaks for these families that are approaching what is very much a season that, commercially at least, is about the children in our lives. We get multi-color blinking lights for our tree's because that's what the kids like. We write letters to Santa letting him know how good we have been all year. We bake, wrap presents, we make memories with the intent that in years to come we will look back on these memories as the most special times of our lives. My heart breaks for the families who will not be able to move about the Christmas season in this way. My heart breaks for the first responders, emergency crews/teams, and the Chattanooga school board, law enforcement, and medical professionals who sacrifice time with their families so that they may be properly trained and prepared for this kind of tragedy. And as they have had to sort through what is a very confusing and slow moving situation with young children. I heard a report today from one of the doctors at a press conference just letting the public know that it has taken time to identify the children as they did not have identification on them, all dressed in the same uniform, and some so young that they don't know how to spell their names or their parents actual names. All they knew to say when asked for their mothers name was "momma". So, their team got creative and went all Grey's Anatomy in the fact that they took pictures of the children and with the help of Woodmore Elementary staffers slowly, but surely identified them and reconnected them to their families. Which I think is amazing ingenuity!!
Lindsey Stirling's Instagram
Chattanooga will always be one of the cities I call home. I lived there for five years and still have friends there. I have friends in law enforcement, friends with school age children, friends that work/volunteer at the hospitals, and friends that are professional counselors. My mind has been on them all day. What today has looked like for them as we all get more details on what happened, how many sweet little lives we lost, and how many are still in critical condition. I don't think I can properly imagine what it has been like for them. I have been in a traumatic situation involving a child and in my experience it was like walking in Jell-O from start to finish and even awhile after. Yesterday, today, perhaps even these next few days to follow, are not going to be forgotten for any of these people. The victims, their families, friends, educators, school system, law officials, medical professionals, counselors, etc. are all going to remember this day, now matter how they hope not to.
I can say, I have read/heard many reports today and all of them complimented the work of all the officials, medical staff, first responders, etc. that had the impossible duty of on site management, communication to media, public, and most importantly the families of these children. I am not at all surprised. I heard a man say today that while this is tragedy, he had three children in the accident, one still in critical condition, and still he said that the silver lining of it all was that he saw his city come together for him and the other victims. It was one of the most beautiful interviews I've seen all day. He wasn't outwardly emotional, he communicated his feelings and thoughts well, he answered the reporters questions in a as honest as he could, way. I was impressed by him. I was touched by his ability to find a silver lining and to be able to vocalize his support and gratitude for all those that have been at the scene, hospital, etc. The chaos had to be overwhelming for everyone and yet there are still stories like this.
Why am I yammering on about all of this? I'm not 100% sure other than to say that now more than ever our world needs our prayers, actions and words as believers. It NEEDS our intercessory prayer, it needs our light to shine in these dark moments. This world needs us to be who we have been called to be as Christians. This world, needs our truth. This world needs our peace. This world needs our blessed assurance that this will one day, be over. This world, NEEDS our Savior. I was recently talking with a friend about hard times and we both said that neither of us know how folks handle this life and this world, with out Him. I can honestly say that with every ounce of my being and every breath in my lungs that I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that my only salvation, my only hope, my only healing, provision, protection, comfort, confidence, and pure bliss comes from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have seen and continue to see what life with out Him can look like and I want none of it. I'm not saying that our Salvation exempts us from these kinds of tragedies. Actually, if anything, it usually puts us right in the center of them. It is in these situations, these tragedies, that folks need our Light, our Truth. It is in these times that our every word, action, and tear are watched as an example to those around us in what our faith in Him looks like in the midst of tragedy, in the midst of pain. They need to see our reliance on Jesus now, not when things are going well. Not when everything is right, every bill is paid, every one in our family is getting along, no. It is not those times that examples of our faith are most needed. It is in these darkest, so painful, unexplainable times that the examples of our Faith are most needed.
As you donate blood, send food, teddy bears, messages of hope, healing and prayers, I would encourage you to keep in mind and at the center of what you are doing that this is the time your truth and your salvation has prepared you for. Times like this are what being consistent in our quiet times, studying of the Word, living by grace in our day-to-day interactions, our individual, unique relationship with Christ and our constant prayers, are preparing us for. This is what the Lord meant when He said, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,..". 1 Peter 3:15 NIV.
I am praying for my city. I am praying for my friends. I am praying for the crews, teams, officials, etc. I am praying for the families and school staffers. I cannot pretend to fathom their loss or pain right now. But I will thank the Lord, because right now they may not be able to, for the healing He is going to provide for them all, in one way or another. I'm also going to be praying for the driver and his family. There is no way they are having a easy day either. In events like these all towns, are small towns, and everybody know somebody who knows somebody and there is almost never a safe place to gather yourself when you or yours are at the center of the cause of a tragedy. They are going to have some healing to do as well. They too need our prayers. I am praying for our international neighbors, partners, and enemies. I am praying for our Nation. I am praying for it's leaders. I am praying for you.
Matthew 18:20 - NLT-, "For where two or three gather together as my followers,
I am there among them."