Last Friday I was sitting on the 2nd floor of a restaurant in New York City on a weekend holiday vacation with my family. Our table was right beside a wall of windows which overlooked Times Square and the huge big screen television that towered over the street.
While taking in the view of the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and enjoying lunch with my family, the breaking news of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary flashed across the TV. Upon reading the horrific details that scrolled across the bottom of the screen – news that was happening an hour away from where I was sitting – my heart sunk so deep that it practically fell out of my chest. As I looked into the faces of my children sitting across from me at the table, I was overcome with a tidal wave of despair for the parents who would never see the precious little faces of their children again.
As the day went on, I tried to go about our planned agenda, but my thoughts kept getting pulled back to the gut wrenching publicized scenes that had taken place in Newtown, CT. Although my brain was trying to process what had happened, my heart just couldn’t handle it.
The next morning as I watched the news, despair overtook my thoughts and tears welled in my eyes. The sadness and devastation seemed impossible to comprehend and overcome — and I was merely an outside observer of the tragedy. Not personally involved. Not knowing anyone involved. But so sad for those involved that I longed to be able to do something to help. Yet there was nothing I could do.
During a season of the year which is supposed to filled with joy and happiness, celebration and worship – things like this are not supposed to happen. And honestly, I have actually been at a loss for words. Words to describe what had happened, and words of comfort, escaped me.
How does one utter anything that could bring an ounce of hope to people whose hearts are so shattered that the pieces will never be completely whole again? How can anything we say or do be sufficient?
How can we make a difference in the lives of people we don’t even know, especially when their pain is blacker than the deepest, darkest pit?
But yesterday I read my precious friend Lysa TerKeurst’s blog, and one particular word she wrote seemed to jump off the page.
You see, as a mom, I had been trying to define and understand the depth of pain that people were experiencing so that I could process it in my own heart and know how to pray for them. Yet I knew that the ache in my heart for them, paled in comparison to the unmendable and unbearable heartache they were enduring. Heartache that is too heavy to bear. Heartache that feels like the earth opened up, exposing a bottomless pit of despair, and they fell so deep into a chasm of despair that they feel they can never escape.
Chasms. Lysa worded it this way:
“They (mommies) aren’t supposed to find that grieving for a child is like navigating a path with chasms so wide their continued steps seem impossible. Terrifying. Hopeless…………. I want my prayers to slip into those chasms and somehow fill them. I am asking God to show me. ……Please Lord, let my prayers go there. Prick my heart to fill that chasm with layers of prayers from my mommy heart. Let me take the deep grief of that moment so she doesn’t have to be so alone.” (To read Lysa’s Proverbs 31 Devotion about this, click here)
There really are no words to heal the pain so deep in the chasms of hearts. But we can commit to pray for God to mend their wounds and fill those chasms so profoundly that they can hardly take in so much of His Presence. Prayers that help build a bridge from the bottom of the chasm, to the Light that they so desperately need now and in years to come.
Lysa invited us all to join her in offering up prayers for these devastated families who have lost their babies, friends, co-workers, and loved ones. I hope you will visit her blog to offer the only Christmas gift that we can give to the community of Sandy Hook and all the people affected.
Gifts of prayer. Gifts that will never be acknowledged here on earth, but that will help the weak find strength to make it through one more minute, and enough hope and comfort to eventually escape from the chasm of despair.
Chasms of despair need to be filled with gifts of prayer.
Click here to leave your gift of prayer on Lysa’s blog. It will be the most valuable gift you give this Christmas season.
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.