A week ago, there was a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. 20 elementary school-age children were killed.
Through the outpourings of sympathy and prayers that appeared on my Facebook news feed, perhaps the one that stuck out most to me was a short note from my friend Rachel.
I am struck by the wisdom of her comment, because this is not simply a comfort–this is the ultimate comfort to those who are mourning over the loss of their children. God understands. He, too, had a Son who was killed. Except God the Father killed His Son: “[I]t was the will of the Lord to crush him” (Isaiah 53:10a).
God understands your sorrow and grief. He sympathizes. And yet I ask that you not ignore why God crushed His Son. Why would God voluntarily undergo such terrible pain in killing His own Son?
Because He loves you, and wants you to be reconciled to Him.
You have sins in your life that make a proper relationship with Him impossible. He is so perfect, so holy, so far removed from our imperfection and sin that He cannot have a good relationship with those who sin. His justice even demands that He punish those who sin. Yes, Adam Lanza will receive incredible punishment for his sins. But you are also not without sin, and I plead with you to consider the consequences of those sins. God will punish them.
This is is why God killed His Son. The Bible says that Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). God pierced and crushed Jesus for your sins. Jesus took the punishment for your sins that you might have peace, so that you would no longer be at odds with God. God sacrificed and killed His own Son so that you might be reconciled to Him. The Bible also says this: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . . . [W]hile we were enemies [of God] we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:8, 10).
You may be concerned that this makes God no more than a divine child abuser. This is not the case. God is so pleased by Jesus’ obedience and love that God has ensured that Jesus “is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). God is the most loving Father there is. He desires to be reconciled to the children of His creation, and He glorifies His Son, Jesus Christ, with a seat next to His throne for the sacrificial death that makes our reconciliation to God possible.
I know this is a trying time. I have done my best not to take advantage of this situation by politicizing it or by making a case for the necessity of the Gospel to transform a fallen society. I believe that the children who died are in heaven, where they are enjoying being with God, and I hope that brings you comfort to know that your children truly are in a better place. But I also firmly believe there is no greater comfort available to you than to say that He sympathizes. Not only does He understand the pain of the death of a child, but He voluntarily accepted that pain to demonstrate His love for you. It is a love that is strong enough to cover and heal any wound. I hope it comforts you to know how much God loves you, and to what length He went to demonstrate that love.
If any of this is offensive to you, that was not my intent. It is my sincerest belief that these are the most comforting words I could give you, and I hope you can forgive me on the basis of my intentions.
I am praying for you, and I hope you find peace.