As I sat watching the local news last night, reporters informing the community of a shooting at a nearby Wal-Mart, I felt defeated. Another random shooting, another senseless act of violence, another selfish act resulting in lives being needlessly taken. I listened to parents describing their escape from the store as they ran with their babies in hand, I listened to parents who hadn’t yet heard from their teenagers who had been in the store, I listened to parents who were sobbing both in fear and relief. I felt hopeless, knowing that there is no way to escape the violence that has become so commonplace.
I was afraid. I am afraid. While I’m certainly no victim, I can imagine the terror in an attack like this. I have children. I can imagine the horror of my children being murdered. I have a husband. I can imagine being left without him due to the violent act of another. I can imagine participating in simple errands, only to end up being caught in the crossfire of the ceaseless violence that tears our communities apart each day. I don’t know what it’s like, but I can imagine it. And it’s terrifying.
While putting my daughter to bed, I paid special attention to the rather comical depiction of Jesus (pictured above) that she has had next to her pillow for a number of weeks.
She keeps Jesus close to her when the room becomes dark and uncertainty sets in. She keeps Jesus close to her when she is alone and unsure. She keeps Jesus close to her when she cannot see what’s lurking in the closet or under the bed. She knows that Jesus is near when the lights go out.. As she slept in peace knowing that Jesus was with her, I stayed awake, knowing the same thing, yet continuing to worry about things I cannot control. What a simple lesson from a child.
As adults, we are no longer naive to the dangers lurking everywhere. To the random violence that continues to increase in our dark world. But what if we just pictured Jesus by our side; what if that was all it took? To picture him and know that he is walking with us. To picture him and know that our destiny is in his hands, not the hands of those around us. To picture him and release our fear. We are told in Proverbs 18:10 (NIV) that “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” I don’t mean this to make light of a horrific situation. I don’t mean it to sound like I am nonchalantly saying that if we just look to Jesus, the horror and the pain will simply disappear. I know it won’t. Pain and distress will be a part of our lives as long as we are living in this broken world. However, this was a reminder to me that Jesus wants us to call on him. He wants our attention. He wants to calm our fears and protect our hearts. And while we can’t predict what the next moments in life hold, we do know that Jesus is near and that he wants to hear from us and comfort us.