Did you ever read about something horrible happening in the world and feel an overwhelming sadness deep in your heart? Have you ever sat there, helpless, wishing you could do something?
When it hurts so bad and we don’t know what to do…
Note: This post contains sensitive material concerning the topic of murder in recent news.
I felt like that today while reading the story of a teenage girl who strangled and slit the throat of a nine-year-old girl in the woods because she wanted to know what it would feel like. The teen wrote about in her journal right after the incident. Apparently she enjoyed it.
Years have passed, and the girl who committed murder has now received a life sentence. She also issued an apology to the family, stating if she could exchange her life for their daughter’s, she would.
The story has troubled me all day. I don’t have the words.
How Do These Things Happen?
I’m not sure if asking how these things can happen has a point; we know the answer. Satan roams the earth (Job 1:7) like a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). People are used and abused. And yet we often think this stuff is just happening “out there” to people we don’t know and will never meet.
Driving with my husband today, we talked about the story. I felt so much grief that all I could do was pray out loud with tears in my eyes — right there in the car.
How was this feeling so strong when I didn’t even know the people or families? Maybe we know each other more than we think. We are all someone’s child. And more than that, we are all God’s children.
Lord! Hold precious Elizabeth in your arms. Please, Lord. Send this family the peace and comfort that can only come from you, Lord. Fill their hearts with forgiveness and mercy. Lord, heavenly father, purify the now 18-year-old Alyssa’s heart. Lord, transform her. Take her life into your hands and show her your face.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:18)
Lord, Hear Our Cries for You
While going back to find that article, I found another one, maybe worse than the first about the Powell boys. The father set the house ablaze with his two sons inside –ages five and seven — and the social worker locked outside. He also used a hatchet — as police have said, perhaps in an attempt to “end it quickly.”
I ask, how can a man kill his children? And I know again this question has an answer.
My heart is so broken. Tears are pouring out, and I feel like I could vomit.
I pray but don’t have the words. Nothing but gut-wrenching pain fills my heart and stomach. The Holy Spirit hears these cries.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
— Romans 8:26
Temptations Toward Complacency
Something tempts me to wish I hadn’t read these stories, to feel this news has disturbed a peaceful complacency of a “normal” Wednesday night. This is why I don’t watch television or read the news.
But there is a reason: because I know these things, I now pray intensely in ways I can’t describe here in this post.
You are God alone; our lives are in your hands. How brief this life is. When it hurts so bad and we don’t know what to do, we draw near to you and let you work.
When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.
– Isaiah 59:19b
Hate to say this but this post has helped as in I realise I’m not just being morbid when certain stories affect me and all I can think about is that senseless crime, the family crushed in grief, feeling stunned by the violence acted on for no reason.
Certain things in the past have haunted me and I’ve not been certain if its just a morbid part of me dwelling when I should move on. Now this post has actually highlighted a possibility I’d never considered – that God would use my circling thoughts to turn to prayer, using tears, sighs and whatever else I do as a result of my sadness (and as a word, sadness doesn’t cut how these things affect me sometimes).
Thanks for making some sense of it. Brave and great post.
Jennifer Johns says
Last night I could hardly write this post, but I kept praying and hearing “write!” I’m not even sure if it makes sense, but some of the details were so awful I just wanted to put my head in a pillow and cry.
Thank you God for being our lighthouse, the place we can look to and keep our eyes and hearts focused. Praying these families know the Lord — or come to know Him — in these hard times.