Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

As I write this, please know that I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of grief and fear that fills a parent as soon as they hear that their very own precious child is diagnosed with Autism–or even more, a mental illness.  I have never been in this type of situation and so I hope to write this post out of complete humility…

Horrific moments in our lives often bring out the fear in each of us.  We see this happen all throughout the Bible in stories of the Old Testament and even in the more recent history of the world.  The tragedy that shook our nation on December 14th is continuing to strike fear into many people’s homes just days after the event.  I am not talking about the terror that has arisen towards guns or even school safety; rather I am writing about the trepidation that is spreading through families touched by Autism or diagnosed with a mental illness.  Just a couple of days after the shooting, a woman named Liza Long wrote an article titled, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” (see: http://gawker.com/5968818/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother?post=55355914).  This mother writes about her own teenage son with autism and an aggressive mental illness in an attempt to send out a cry for help.  She believes that our country must do more to address our seemingly growing struggle with mental health.

I have very mixed views on Long’s article.  But honestly, I do not want to sit here and write about my own opinion and what I think should be done throughout our nation.  There were so many other environmental and family influences upon Adam Lanza’s life which most likely attributed to his actions that I do not feel at all capable of diagnosing his situation.  Autism is very a large and growing topic that I do not want to address right now.  Also, mental health is a much bigger issue that I do not think at all can be tackled in just a short blog post.  Although these two things seem to go very much hand-in-hand with the shooting, I do not want to merely analyze these two different diagnosis and give my own futile advice to people.

Rather, I would love to help bring all of us back to the simplicity of gospel truths in the midst of a confusing and chaotic situation…. In the wake of this great tragedy, please do not lose hope for all of our children touched by autism or even more those individuals with a diagnosed mental disorder.  A diagnosis is not a death sentence for anyone.  We still have a great Savior who can and does change the heart of many people around us–we must turn to Him now to change the hearts and minds of our children and families suffering.  Above all, prayer is our biggest and best weapon during these overwhelming times.  On our own, we can never beat nor even tackle Autism or mental health problems.  This is where it is much more of a heart issue than just a behavior modification difficulty. (See previous post)  Only God can do the final work in individuals and hearts must be changed for true transformation.  As our nation is filled with fear, I pray that we as the Church can draw together and share this hope with families of children with Autism or mental illness.  We have a perfect opportunity to share the love of Christ in situations like this in order to calm the anxiety that can often fill our hearts.  This is the hope and confidence we can and must rest in–especially during this Christmas season.  Let us not hold sight of this and continue to share the hope of our Savior to all during this time of seemingly great confusion and fear.  Merry Christmas!

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure”

Hebrews 6:19a

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the on who trusts will never be dismayed.” 

Isaiah 28:16

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