The Common Good

Five Children’s Questions About the Sandy Hook Tragedy

I’ve seen plenty of articles responding to the shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Some are angry, some pastoral, still others, prophetic in their call for change in various forms. I have little to add to the conversation at that level, but I have heard questions from many children, some from my own kids. I thought I’d offer some responses I’ve shared.

© Yuri Arcurs / Shutterstock.com
© Yuri Arcurs / Shutterstock.com

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What happened? 

Something terribly sad. A man hurt some children and adults in a school in Connecticut. Some of them died. The teachers and students were very brave, and the community is working together to take care of those who survived and those who lost someone they loved. Even the President went there to be with them.

Why did the man hurt children?

I wish I knew. Sometimes people do incredibly terrible things to one another, even if the person they’re hurting didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe he was very sad, or angry. Maybe he was sick. But whatever the reason, I think we should focus on helping those hurt by all of this work through their sadness and hopefully find some kind of healing. We need to remember to tell each other we love one another, to give an extra hug to someone who needs it, and to respond to people who are mean with kindness. I think it’s what God wants from us.

Could this happen to me?

We never know for sure when we’ll get hurt or when someone might try to hurt us. Like when you ride your bike, you know you might fall and get hurt, but that doesn’t mean we let the fear that something might happen keep us from ever riding again. Life is pretty much the same way. There are risks every day, but we get to choose to live our lives as fully as possible every day, even if there are sometimes that we might be hurt. But also know that we love you and will do everything we can to care for you and protect you. And there are lots and lots of people in your life who feel the exact same way.

Why did God let this happen?

I can’t say I understand that completely. But I choose to believe God is at the beginning of all life: mine, yours, everything. God is also in the love that holds us together. It’s what helps make our lives something special and beautiful. But there is always a risk with love. There’s a chance our hearts will be broken, but that’s not a good enough reason to stop loving. It’s hard to find God in something so terrible, so dark, so ugly. But I do see God in the way we all come together in response to this kind of hurt. We may be mean to each other sometimes, but we can’t ever get rid of love. That’s where I see God in all of this.

What do we do now?

The best thing we can do to honor the life God has given us is to live it every day as fully as possible. If you have feelings about all of this, that’s okay. It’s normal to feel sad, scared, or angry. It’s fine to have questions. You can always come to me to talk about your questions or how you feel. Keep the people from Sandy Hook in your heart, offer a prayer for them and when you feel a little bit afraid or sad, find someone to hug. We all need each other, and if we always try to put love first, we’ll be sure to honor the gifts God has given us.

Christian Piatt is an author, editor, speaker, musician and spoken word artist. He is Director if Church Growth and Development at First Christian Church in Portland, Ore. Christian is the creator and editor of "Banned Questions About The Bible" and "Banned Questions About Jesus." His new memoir on faith, family and parenting is called "PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date."

Photo: © Yuri Arcurs | View Portfolio / Shutterstock.com

 

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