In tragedy we grieve; in God, we hope

REUTERS The families of victims grieve near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman opened fire on school children and … Continued


The families of victims grieve near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012.

I join my fellow Americans in grieving the terrible tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary and in praying for the families involved. It is unthinkable that someone would have such anger and bitterness in his heart that he would attack innocent people in such a devastating way. Truly, it is difficult for any of us to grasp. When I think of the terrifying last moments of the children and staff members of the school, I am absolutely heartbroken for them, their families, their schoolmates, and everyone at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Certainly, there are many who are wondering why God would allow such a horrific tragedy. Where was He? Why did He allow this? Why didn’t He stop this young man from perpetrating this terrible crime? I confess I have many questions myself. But does it shake my faith in God? No. It actually makes me more grateful for Him. This is because in God, I always have hope, no matter what happens.

View Photo Gallery: Shooting at a Connecticut elementary school kills 27 people, including 20 children.

We may never discover the answer to our questions this side of heaven. The truth is, evil is dangerous and destructive, and it is no respecter of the innocent among us. But we also know that this tragedy grieves the heart of God very deeply. Thankfully, we’re assured that His desire is to comfort those who are mourning, and if people will seek Him in the midst of this tragedy, they will certainly find Him. And through His provision of Jesus Christ—who we celebrate at Christmas—we know that if we accept His gift of salvation, we have a home that awaits us in heaven where there are no tears; there is no pain, no evil, and no death; and where we will be reunited with our loved ones.

I hope everyone reading this will join me in praying for the families affected—especially for the parents of these children who will face unspeakable grief this Christmas and an extremely long healing process in the years ahead. Please pray for our nation, asking God to help us regain a respect for life and for the innocent and helpless among us. I also pray that parents and grandparents across America will hold their children and grandchildren more tightly today, taking the opportunity to tell them how much they love them. I know I certainly will.

May God show you His love and comfort in a powerful way. And may He continue to bless America.

Dr. Charles Stanley is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta and founder of In Touch Ministries , his teaching and broadcast ministry. If this tragedy has stirred fear, sorrow, or questions within you, In Touch Ministries is making available a special message, “Our Choices in the Midst of Tragedy” as a gift. Call In Touch Ministries’ Customer Care Center at 800-789-1473 or e-mail [email protected] for resources to help you find answers or visit

Related content from On Faith:

* God weeps: 27 children, staff killed in Conn. school shooting

* Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting shocks a nation

Written by

  • Susan Amerman

    Susan Amerman

    There is no law or enough security to fight the evil in this world. We are dealing with an unseen darkness that affects individuals on a scale that many fail to recognize. We are attacked through our blindness of the truth of Christ and our selfish reasoning that we somehow control all the circumstances in our lives. If people want to fight this kind of terror there is only one way…..
    Ephesians 6:12

    English Standard Version (ESV)

    12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.


    You christians’ unholy alliance with the right wing whackos includes the gun nuts of the NRA, so don’t feign innocence, preacher.

    Your hands are bloody.

  • PhillyJimi1

    The GOP – Guns and God!

  • really now

    SODDI- You have got to be kidding. How insensitive of you and how ignorant. You don’t know anything about the shooter…..nobody does, he may be a wacko of the right, left OR center wing. It’s completely irrelevant to the pain these families are experiencing. This editorial was NOT a political statement, and it is insulting for you to try to make it one. Dr. Stanley’s hands are no more bloody than yours. If all you can do is attempt to blame people who are just trying to be a voice of comfort – then just stop it. Stop it and let’s try to pull together for once.


    Stanley is an ultra right-wing Southern Baptist goon who marches in lockstep with the NRA whose sole mission is to keep this country awash in assault weapons so that more lone nuts can get a hold of these weapons to murder more children.

  • Futures Trader

    That hatre of the leftists is felt deeply. Very comforting.

  • Secular1

    Same garbage as the author. More of the same old SCAT. Why don’t you pious shut your mouths for just one day?

  • Secular1

    After suffering the arrogance of the rightwingnut cases there is nothing else left but anger not hatred. You are not worth our hatred.

  • FaithandHope

    Secular1’s attitude is perfect example of what has happened to this country……may God be with us all.

  • really now

    Secular1 – “Why don’t you pious shut your mouths for just one day?”
    Because they have the same freedom of speech as you do, you hypocrite. So you are able to make your speech on this page just like they can.

  • FaithandHope

    Thank you Dr. Stanley for your words and guidance in dealing with this so very sad day…………….I needed to read this today.

  • really now

    SODDI- “Stanley is an ultra right-wing Southern Baptist goon who marches in lockstep with the NRA whose sole mission is to keep this country awash in assault weapons so that more lone nuts can get a hold of these weapons to murder more children.”
    Really?? Stanley’s op-ed did not say one freaking word about the NRA- you are the one obsessing about the NRA and doing it before you know anything about why this tragedy really happened. You have a right to spew ignorance but not lies. What evidence do you have that Charles Stanley is linked to the NRA? I know how to use Google and found none.

  • larryg67

    That ” creature ” does not exist. He most certainly does. But guess what, we kicked Him completely out of our country and now we expect Him to come to our rescue when evil comes calling and save us from all the sick violence that surrounds us. Sounds pretty arrogant to me. I believe 3 times God was rejected from the platform of the democratic convention. 3 times. Ok, if that is what you want, he is more than happy to oblige. See, he is a God of choices. If we reject Him, then the consequences are ours to deal with. Stanley is sick, we right wing Christian wackos are sick, no, not in the least. We just cling to the only hope we have in this sick world, God. And if that offends you, so be it. And as for us Christian’s, it is time to wake up to the reality that maybe, just maybe God is calling His church to wake up out of our sleep and stand against the evil and ignorance that is destroying this once great and very much blessed nation of ours.

  • Veronica Mullins

    Amen…Every time some tragedy occurs..everybody wants to blame God…The Devil came to kill,steal and destroy…so you tell me….whose to blame…Only when a tragedy does occur do we run to church and pray for Gods help….We need to make our minds up…Do we want Gods help or not…only when it’s convenient …our country kills babies everyday…Do you think that’s pleasing to our Creator? God please open the eyes of all Americans …We need you desperately…

  • Secular1

    Unfortunately not enough of us have kicked the myths. Have you both, really read that decrypt filthy amoral tome. It should have been left on the dung hill of history as we left the books of Al Chemistry on the same dung hill. What kind of evil satanic deity will gllefully accept the sacrifice of little per-pubescent child, because the dimwitted father vows to do so – the grotesque filth call Story of Jephthah. You tell me that this so called deity is a loving deity.

    IF what you claim of democratic party did regarding their platform, I would say HIP, HIP HOORAY. My hats off to that. No deity has any place in public discourse. It is teh wackiness best kept within ones four walls. Both of you despite these wicked episodes, there has been no better times than the present as far as people living a more moral lives in through out the human history. The evil that pervaded this earth , filled with human sacrifices to the deities to slavery to inter racial bigotry and countless genocides in name of the deities. Certain that there still are evil things going on, but no where near the genocides and slaveries and sacrifices of the so called biblical times or even just a few hundred years ago.

    This has been possible only because we have been kicking the fairy tale deities from our lives. Hallelujah, Hallelujah for kicking the deities out our lives. Unfortunately not fully and not soon enough.

  • Secular1

    “our country kills babies everyday…Do you think that’s pleasing to our Creator?” OH yes read your bible lady, in deutronomy, your monster deity asks Israelites to kill all the Canaanite babies doesn’t he? So stop this stupid nonsense, about abortions. Those just zygotes, not yet babies.

  • di89

    How about praying for people to stop reacting with “But we never thought that would happen here, it’s such a nice town, so safe…” As if it were OK, or at least what one would expect,

  • di89


    if it were somewhere else.

  • di89

    I don’t know about this individual, but the religious right in general, in order to oppose abortion, has allied itself with a political party which will not so much as say boo to the NRA or any other firearms rights group. They may be holding their noses, and consider it the lesser of two evils, but they put up with it.

  • Veronica Mullins

    You did not give me an answer to my questions…how did you come into existence..and so on..I pray for God to reveal himself to you in some way so that you will be loosed from the bonds of Satan..turning you from the power of Satan unto God…May God save your soul and your family

  • di89

    “Freedom of speech” refers to government action not message boards run by private companies.

    Anyhow, one can still ask why people don’t shut up even if nobody is making them…if you think it would be a good idea, you can put it out there.

  • di89

    You are suggesting that God wants, or at least allows, this kind of thing as a punishment for the fact that abortions occur in this country? That may be satisfying but it is lousy theology.

  • Secular1

    Ms. Mullins please read my response below where you asked me the questions. Then again you have not answered my question about Jephthah’s story.

    Yes, yes for these pious ones abortions by totally unrelated people calls for these 16 lives must be taken away by their deity. Just like all those wicked Canaanite children or for that matter all the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, children included but saved the Pond scum Lot. The same Lot who thought first thing to do to protect his guests was to offer up his two virgin daughters to the mob to do with them what it pleases. Then fornicating with two daughters. I wonder if there is any pious person on teh forum who can rationalize these two stories in tehir beloved bible.

  • Secular1

    reallynow, really? is your understanding of 1st amendment this shallow? That was a rhetorical question? Speaking of censoring It is WAPO, perhaps due to some of you pious protesting, removed my first comment above. If anything it is you pious censor that which you do not agree with. so enough of this protestation.

  • Rongoklunk

    Maybe, just maybe God exists only in the mind. That’s a more reasonable conclusion to come to considering he never does anything; ignores holocausts and wars and tsunamis and hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and volcanoes and floods and famines and the horrors of disease and Siamese twins joined at the head; never gets involved, never lifts a finger. Simply does nothing about anything. Sensible un-superstitious conclusion? He exists only in the mind.

  • Veronica Mullins

    He has apparently put me into contact with you…Maybe to give you food for thought…You seem very angry at this God whom you say does not exist…So therefore if he doesn’t exist who are you trying so hard to convince ,me or yourself and why be angry at him for you say doing nothing…this will be my last reply to you…I pray for you again to come to the knowledge of the truth…I did not mean because PEOPLE allow innocent babies to be aborted everyday is the reason this happened today….I simply meant that killing babies that way is ok with society…but let what happened today ..then the MURDERER is called A monster…GOODBYE TO YOU AND SEARCH YOUR OWN HEART AND MIND …WHAT IF THERE REALLY IS A GOD IN HEAVEN??WHAT ANSWER WILL YOU GIVE HIM FOR YOUR LACK OF FAITH….YOU OWE ME NOTHING…IM JUST CONCERNED FOR YOUR SOUL…GOD DOES LOVE YOU

  • larryg67

    My prayers go deeply for the families and friends of those who lost their loved ones today. That is first and foremost. And I pray for Charles Stanley and all those pastors who stand for their faith and the truth. I pray for those who have the courage to stand for their faith, and yes I pray for those who choose to reject and attack those who proclaim their faith.

  • Secular1

    Lady you are one deluded dudette. You haven’t given me any food for thought. I have been round the block, and am a free thinking atheist. Do you really think I have not heard all this superstitious clap trap before. I posed at least half a dozen moral dilemmas in that filthy book You haven’t been able to answer them. It is height of hubris on your part to think you have given any of us food for thought.

    I am not a deluded person to get angry with a non-existing creature or to adore it. You don’t have to pray, as it has been shown that it is totally worthless. Instead you can muster all your faculties and provide me with some evidence.

    Another thing lady there is no such thing as soul. Oh! un cas I run into your dog, what would I say about my lack of faith? Just the same Bertrand Russel said when asked teh same question.”My lord, you just did not provide enough evidence, for yourself”

  • Secular1

    Larry it has been scientifically shown that prayers are totally worthless. Please please do not waste your breath on us.

  • Veronica Mullins


  • Rongoklunk

    The trouble with praying is there’s nobody listening.

    There’s nobody on the other end.

  • Asirahc

    it was a terrible tragedy….and it will broke the heart of many people…
    and praise God for the man a pastor he used to be an instrument for reminding Gods Love for everyone of us in-spite of problems and trials that will come to our lives…i am praying to all Americans and all the victims of massacre that God will comfort everyone of them…just remember the story of Job who lost his all treasures including his sons and daughter…And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…God bless America!…

  • Rongoklunk

    Gods are mythical by definition. The thirty five hundred gods of the ancients were all invented. So is Allah and Vishnu and your God too. Face reality. There’s nobody up there.

  • Rongoklunk

    It’s easy to be persuaded of something you wish was true. It’s very human.
    We all would like to avoid death if we could. So we latch on to anything that says that there a Big Fairy watching over us; believe in Him and live forever.
    Be good and go to Heaven. Be bad and go to the other place, Hell.

    This is such simple minded nonsense that it can’t last much longer in a well educated world.

  • Jacqueline Goodman

    May God in His infinite Wisdom have mercy upon us all. And to all the non-believers believing the lies of the evil one, may God open your eyes that you may see and open you ears that you may hear to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour before it is too late!

  • jimfoxvog

    “Gods are mythical by definition?” So by your creation of a definition you control what is real? Sounds like a god-like power.

  • ccnl1

    Putting the final kibosh on religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless!!

    • As best we know there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As best we know there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Adde details are available upon request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • nkri401

    “But guess what, we kicked Him completely out of our country…”

    What kind of God can be kicked out of the country?

    Only the illegal aliens can be kicked out of our contry, you know?

  • really now

    Secular1, I see….. I’m pleased that we now have the freedom to say anything we want on this board and then claim it was “rhetorical”. I’m sure you’d also be pleased if someone you disagree with said the same thing – more hypocrisy. And of course, I’m not responsible for WAPO and didn’t flag anyone’s comments here, tacky as some of them are. If WAPO thinks certain comments regarding this tragic apolitical situation are offensive, that is their decision and their right.

  • really now

    di89 – I appreciate you are trying to make some kind of reasoned argument rather than a kneejerk one, but my point that people politicizing this tragedy to make it about the NRA or the religious right is offensive. Dr. Stanley’s op-ed did not do that, and if people disagree or agree with his sentiments, they have the freedom to respectfully do that. But we don’t know enough about what happened or why to make it political.

  • really now

    areyousaying – no, “insensitive and ignorant” is deliberately taking this horrendous tragedy to a place it has nothing to do with (i.e. abortion) in an attempt to politicize it, ignoring the fact that we don’t know enough yet about why this young man snapped. Talk about our responsibility to the mentally ill if you insist on doing anything but expressing concern / sympathy / prayers for these families bearing an incredible burden of grief.

  • Secular1

    JG, you said “And to all the non-believers believing the lies of the evil one, may God open your eyes that you may see and open you ears that you may hear to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour before it is too late!” Yeah! right JG, why doesn’t he do that? may be because he does not exist or may he just wants some of us become atheist and harden our hearts just like he did the Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus, so he may destroy Egypt. But not so very successfully though. As Egypt continued to be a great power for a long time, there after.

  • Secular1

    ReallyNow, as I suspected your understanding of the 1st amendment is quite shallow. Enough said about it. This man’s sentiments are the grotesque expressions of grief. What this charlatan was doing was phishing for more gullibles so he can sell his special kind of snake oil to the newly found gullibles.

  • really now

    “ReallyNow, as I suspected your understanding of the 1st amendment is quite shallow. ” How about instead of patronizing me, that you explain yourself and enlighten me with your superior understanding of the 1st amendment. Suffice it to say that I have a college degree and can understand big words. Of course, it’s easier to be condescending than to actually defend your position, I understand that too.

  • Secular1

    ReallyNow, are you still harping on my comment asking the bloviators would stop barking. Or is it something else? Asking someone on a forum to shut up isn’t squelching anyones right to speech. It is just an expression to mean that the person is arguments are pointless and without much merit. Besides the 1st amendment only prohibits the state from regulating free speech. I was not condescending in what I said. You make a mountain off nothing. My disrupting someones right takes more than my own exercise of my 1st amendment rights or preferring not hear from someone. What extraordinary steps have I taken to shut the person up. So you just barking at the wrong tree.

  • FreetoThink

    Millions of Americans will react to this tragedy by speaking to a fictitious super-being. This mental exercise may help some sedate their anguish, but it will do nothing to prevent the next senseless massacre. If these same millions would petition their lawmakers for stringent gun laws as urgently as they petition their god, perhaps some actual benefit would result.

    It’s time to replace the second amendment with a law that accounts for 21st century society and weapons technology. I would vote for it, and I know 40 parents in Connecticut that would, too.

  • sr.shankernarayanan

    in nuclear family concept is giving technology to next generation with lot of materiel comfort but very less love. the result 20 year old boy has become sadist towards killing violent person we can not bring peace. love from day one to a child only mother can give. if your giving separate room for your children is freedom and comfort. sleep with them and show love until they realize the value of love. for example if i keep gun with me for my protection i am is not safe it is easy for a person who wants to kill me need not come with gun. for war it was used by Army. now this has become home needs why

  • Ndubuisi Macbeth

    Thanks Pastor Charles Stanely for your kind and encouraging words.Father I thank you for healing the hearts of the parents that their children were murdered,encourage and strenghten them in Jesus name amen.

  • ckw

    The young boy prayed, God why do you allow these bad things to happen in schools? And God answered, son I am not allowed in schools anymore. Do we as a nation still put our hope in God, or do we simply give lip service to hope and faith in God?
    A question occurred to me, what does an atheist parent tell the young siblings of one of the victims? Look kid the guy was crazy, your sister is dead and now she is worm food. Get over it and move on.

  • ckw

    Sadly, no religious belief, no amount of psychologists, or even the most draconian gun laws will prevent tragedies like this. To think any governemtn law would prevent this type of thing makes you no better than those who think a more universal deeper belief in god would stop this from happening. There will always be people who won’t obey thou shall not kill regardless of whether it’s the government or god saying it. He could have just as easily set fire to the school, or used a homemade explosive device. If you want to kill somebody you will find a way with or without guns. You are statistically more likely to die from the accidental treatment by a medical doctor or a car accident, or being struck by lightening, than you are by being shot. Should we ban those things also. We won’t ban them because you can take measures to protect your self from these things. Perhaps we should pass a law that all teachers must be trained and carry hand guns to school to protect themselves and their students from psychologically deranged people.

  • ckw

    But there was a Buddha and there was a Jesus. Does it stretch ones credulity to believe in them any more than it does to believe in such scientific mythology as: dark energy, dark matter, multiple universes, 13 dimensions, the big bang, or evolution.
    I mean what the heck we believe in gravity and we don’t know what it is made of, why not believe in God.
    I can remember when they taught in school there was something called centrifugal force. That was a lie. So who are you going to trust to base your belief system on?
    You can’t trust science especially medical science. Remember when milk, coffee, chocolate, and alcohol were bad for you and now they are good for you.
    Science has been around for a couple of hundred years and it keeps changing it’s truths. Basic spiritual truths have been around for many thousands of years and haven’t changed.
    I’ll go with the tried and the true, but I’ll give the new kid a chance to prove himself.

  • Secular1

    CKW, you are indeed a vindicative sicko. Is your supreme creature so meglomanaical and peevish that it would allow such atrocios incident to occur, even though it could have prevented it, just because it is not allowed in schools? Is it really? Or is it not capable of preventing it?

    And coming to the atheist parents, at least they do not lie to the siblings like you wish they did. They as any parent would deal with situation with as much senstivity thta they can muster. But for sure no atheist would gloat like you do at such tragedies.

  • really now

    Thanks for your time, secular1…. I’ll appreciate feeling free in the future to tell those I disagree with on this forum to shut up, knowing that there is no ground for anyone to accuse me of a desire to censor. (By the way, you get extra points for using the word “bloviators” in a sentence, touche!)

  • Secular1

    I am sick and tired of this thinking CKW and his/her ilk exhibit. Has any of considered how many people are killed by guns? Of that has anyone categorized those deaths in following categories:

    1) Criminal on Criminal violence leading to deaths
    2) Mass holdups by professional criminals and leading to killings
    3) Killings by criminals of residents in their course of their criminal activities at a private residences without firearms
    4) Killings by criminals of residents in their course of their criminal activities at a private residence with firearms
    Killings of criminals by the resident during course of a crime
    5) Killings by hitherto non-criminal for reasons other than criminal activity, including the mass killings like one in New Town.

    Off the above 5 categories the first three are not affected by any gun control laws. We have one category of the two that seems to be in favor of no gun control. But the other category of killings can be minimized or eliminated completely with gun control laws. Lets see statistical measure of these two categories and see whether the stats bear out the NRA freaks.

  • Secular1

    CKW my fervent plea to you is please stop mouthing of all that froth, lest you leave no doubt in our minds that you are indeed an idiot.

    Are you really equating the gravity with fairy tales? Why don’t you build your house without considering gravity and see how well it wil work out for you.

    Who taught you that centrifugal force is a lie. Please build yourself a indy style racetrack without the bankings on teh turns and see how you will make out driving at mere 75 mph.

    Yes science keeps changing its truths thats right and that is the strength of science. When we learn more and different from our past observations, we accommodate the new information and adjust our understanding (truths) to reflects the new observations along with the old observations.

    Yes your basic spiritual truths have been around for thousands of year and haven’t changed, indeed and they all have been wrong, dead wrong all this time too.

  • atc333

    Well said, Dr. Stanley.

  • nkri401


    Does it occur to you that as soon as the teachers and the children and later their parents prayed feverishly as soon as they realized what was going on?

    No, I doubt you think much at all…