"The smaller the coffin, the heavier it is to carry …"

This week, Taliban militants in Peshawar, Pakistan, stormed into a school and massacred 145 people. By the end of the hours-long seige, 132 students, 10 staff members and 3 soldiers were dead. Pakistani defense minister, Khawaja Asif told CNN, “The smaller the coffin, the heavier it is to carry. … It’s a very, very tragic day.”

Two years ago on Dec. 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza stormed through the doors of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and six educators before taking his own life as police arrived.

As the world reacts to the massacre in Peshawar and families in Newtown and Peshawar manage their grief, the prayer I wrote two years ago in memory of the Sandy Hook massacre is just as relevant today. May God give us peace.

Dec. 19, 2012

Father, I pray for the families of Sandy Hook. I pray You will be with them in their grief. I know, Lord, that You are close to them because You promise to be close to the brokenhearted. I pray that those who know You will cling to You and that those who don’t will turn to You. For all of them, Lord, I pray that You will heal their broken hearts and bind their wounds.

The words of Matthew 2:18 have been hauntingly close this week, Lord. I hear the cries of “Rachel, weeping for her children,” refusing to be consoled. Father, it was into this kind of world that Jesus came — vulnerable and targeted for death by a crazy king who felt Your threat to his power. Yet, Lord, through the Father’s grace and protection, You survived. You grew to adulthood, lived among us and gave Your life for us. You did not die as a child at the whims of a king but as a man by the purpose of God. And because You came and lived and died and rose again, You are here with us now in our brokenness and grief, in the midst of yet another tragedy involving the innocent.
Father, I pray for the children who survived. In this world gone mad, may they come to know Your love, Your peace, Your security and Your purpose for their lives. May they grow to be strong. May this tragedy define them only to the extent that they seek You and grow into men and women who can be a force for good in this broken world.
Father, I pray for the parents, teachers and community of Newtown. Comfort them in their grief. Give them the resilience to rebuild. Lord, as they face funeral after funeral this week, I’m sure many are praying, “Lord, if You had been here, my child would not have died.” Father, I feel Your tears as You hear their cries. But just as you comforted Martha in the death of her brother, Lazarus, I pray that You will comfort them. Remind them that You are the resurrection and the life. Remind them that in You we can live abundantly, even in the face of suffering, carnage and death. You give us hope, Lord, when all seems lost. Help us to trust You. Help us to believe that somehow what others intended for evil, You planned for good to bring about the saving of many lives.
Father, I am looking to see what You will bring about through this tragedy. May wrong fail and right prevail. I am thankful You walk among us. I am thankful You never leave us.
In Jesus name, amen.
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on the earth, good-will to men.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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