The upside: God willing, they are in HEAVEN right now. No more suffering. No more fear. Never again will they feel pain or sadness. They are happy for eternity. They are watching after you from up there. They have been welcomed into Jesus's loving embrace where they will wait for you to join them.
It should make us happy for them, not sad.
But we focus on our terrible loss instead of their amazing gain, and we are still sad. It's part of being human. This pain and suffering come with the free will. Someone chose to go against God's will and thus we suffer. Even Jesus suffered. He wept when Lazarus died. He took verbal and physical abuse countless times. He died on a cross for us. Suffice it to say, He knows what we go through. He hopes that, like Him, we will get through the suffering until the "good" emerges from it.
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
Some of the most amazing and faithful people I know have faced immense suffering. It never ceases to amaze me how they have emerged from their circumstances with such faith in God. They have become beautiful people. Despite struggles, they have managed to find God instead of rejecting Him.
After tragedy, we either turn away from God or turn to God. We can blame Him for our suffering. We can even claim He's not real. We can ask, "Why would God let this happen?" (Which goes back to the free will thing. He let's us choose whether or not we will follow His will). Or...we can turn to Him. We can pray and pray and pray to get through it. We can remember how precious each second is and learn to cherish our time on earth. We can trust that everything happens for a reason.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
It's hard to admit that we are unable to comprehend suffering. But we know in our hearts that God will make our paths straight if we trust in Him during anguish. And we know that no matter what we are facing, Jesus understands.
Your path may be crooked right now. Very crooked. But this, too, will pass. God will straighten these crooked paths if we trust Him and the plan he Has in store for us.
Suffering creates the opportunity for a severed relationship with God. But it also creates the opportunity for a strengthened relationship with God. It's up to us. If we react according to God's will, we can find our way "out of the depths" and be transformed into beautiful people.
Dear God, please protect and comfort the families and loved ones of the victims of the Newtown shooting. Help us all to grow closer to You during times of trial and to realize that you will make our paths straight. Amen.