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A bittersweet Christmas for all

December 19, 2012

By DANIEL GARDNER

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.”

Having read Matthew’s account of the Christmas story the day before, I thought of this verse originally written by Jeremiah the prophet (31:15) and quoted by the gospel writer (2:18) as fulfilled prophecy when Herod the Great killed “all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from 2 years old and under….”

Many of us have cried real tears over the massacre of the children in Newtown and their teachers even though we didn’t know any personally. Yet few if any of us have cried real tears or even mourned the loss of thousands of other children murdered and tortured every day around the world.

Indeed, we don’t even hear about these daily atrocities.

Rob Cox, editor of “Breakingviews,” the global commentary service of Thomson Reuters, and resident of Newtown, Conn., concluded an editorial with these words, “There can be no explanation for his (Adam Lanza) behavior, no motive. We can only ask questions ... In the end, we may arrive at answers that help make it less likely that tragedies like Newtown’s will recur. That won’t ever heal the suffering of victims’ families. Nor will it salve the collective grief that I know my neighbors, my children, my wife and I are grappling with. Dealing with that will require us to recognize Adam Lanza as one of us, and explore what that means for each of us in Newtown. It will be painful. At least we can be confident our community will pull together.”

Yes, those who commit such atrocities walk among us and are part of our communities and sometimes members of our families. Perhaps that’s what makes the question “Why?” so unanswerable for those who know the victims, though those who know the perpetrators may easily recognize the signs in hindsight.

No law can prevent these tragedies. The Bible itself says none of God’s laws can prevent sin, so how could any of man’s laws prevent atrocities by those determined to wreak violence on innocents. Laws cannot prevent lawlessness but can only punish the perpetrators. And, if perpetrators are bent on self-destruction, what good do laws do?

This Christmas season we should remember even the birth of Jesus Christ was accompanied by deaths of scores of little boys. Jesus, the One Who was born to die to pay for the sins of all mankind, the One Who wept when His own friend Lazarus died though He knew He’d raise him from the dead, and the One Who wept over Jerusalem because the people continually rejected God Who loved them so.

We reap what we sow. Why are we always surprised when we all know what is in our own hearts. Are any among us without sin or malice or hate? Even Mother Teresa said the same thing. And, the aged of every generation know this better than the young, naïve, or proud.

During this bittersweet Christmas season, believers will mourn for those we’ve lost as we celebrate God’s unfathomable love for all mankind, rejoicing in the knowledge that all those children are celebrating Christmas this year in the presence of God.

Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville. Contact him at Daniel@DanLGardner.com.

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