rebelling against low expectations

Tragedy in Newtown: A Christian Response


How do we respond to an unspeakable tragedy like this? A horrific slaughter carried out by a young man barely removed from his teen years. How do we respond as young people? How do we respond as Christians? What can we say?

It’s 8AM, less than 24-hours since the massacre. To be honest, Ana and I didn’t sleep last night. We prayed, Ana cried, and we read from Randy Alcorn’s book, If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. We skipped around and were incredibly blessed and strengthened in our faith. These were my favorite chapters:

  • Chapter 30: Why Doesn’t God Do More to Restrain Evil and Suffering?
  • Chapter 35: Apparently Gratuitous Evil and Pointless Suffering
  • Chapter 21: Jesus: The Only Answer Bigger Than the Questions

Perhaps you are wrestling with some of the same questions and emotions. Perhaps you are wondering what you can say to your non-believing co-workers or friends.

To serve you, we’ve compiled some of the most helpful articles we’ve found online — three about the Newtown tragedy, one written in remembrance of September 11th, and one written during World War I. We pray they encourage and equip you to hate evil, have compassion on the hurting, and love our Savior more than ever.

How Does Jesus Come to Newtown?

Desiring God • December 14, 2012 • John Piper

We need a suffering Savior. We need a Savior who has tasted the cup of horror we are being forced to drink.

And that is how he came. He knew what this world needed. Not a comedian. Not a sports hero. Not a movie star. Not a political genius. Not a doctor. Not even a pastor. The world needed what no mere man could be.

Keep Reading –>

Rachel Weeping For Her Children • December 14, 2012 • Dr. Albert Mohler

The calculated and premeditated nature of this crime, combined with the horror of at least twenty murdered children, makes the news almost unspeakable and unbearable. The grief of parents and loved ones in Newtown is beyond words. Yet, even in the face of such a tragedy, Christians must speak. We will have to speak in public about this evil, and we will have to speak in private about this horrible crime. How should Christians think and pray in the aftermath of such a colossal crime?

Keep Reading –>

School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare • December 14, 2012 • Dr. Russell Moore

Let’s grieve for the innocent. Let’s demand justice for the guilty. And let’s rage against the Reptile behind it all.

As we do so, let’s remember that Bethlehem was an act of war. Let’s remember that the One born there is a prince of peace who will crush the skull of the ancient murderer of Eden. Let’s pray for the Second Coming of Mary’s son. And, as we sing our Christmas carols, let’s look into the slitted eyes of Satan as we promise him the threat of his coming crushed skull.

Keep Reading –>

Sermon of Remembrance and Peace • September 10, 2011 • Tim Keller

TRANSCRIPT: But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means?

John Stott puts it this way. John Stott wrote: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be.

It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. … if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.

Keep Reading –>

Jesus of the Scars

by Edward Shillito

If we have never sought you, we seek you now;
Your eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-marks on your brow,
We must have you, O Jesus of the scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by your scars we know your grace.
If, when the doors are shut, you then draw near,
Only reveal those bloodied feet and hands
We know today what wounds are, have no fear;
Show us your scars, we know you understand
The other gods were strong; but you were weak;
They rode, but Jesus stumbled to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but You alone.

In the end, how we respond as young adults and how we respond as Christians should be the same. The mature and godly responses of men like John Piper, Albert Mohler, and Tim Keller should be our targets. We aim to respond with broken hearts, steady faith, and the Cross of Christ. We should be informed, we should care, and we should be careful what we say.

We pray the resources in this post encourage and educate you on how to engage with these kinds of tragedies. And may God comfort the people of Newtown.

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About the author

Brett Harris

is co-founder of and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.


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  • Thank you so much for this encouraging messege that enable us to keep this life in perspective. This is vastly insightful for trusting God in this situation. Our hearts and prayers go out for these people. Thanks again, Kate

  • Rage. I felt complete rage in my little body when I first found out,and then I dissvolved into tears.
    It could have been my brothers class. It could of been my little sister . My heart has been crying out, and this is exactly what I needed. That you for giving out those resources ,they have helped me remember to find comfort in God again.

  • The article, “How Does Jesus Come to Newtown?” mentions several passages from Isaiah 53. This is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible because it shows us that no matter how much suffering we go through, He has gone through do much more. He’s not a god who doesn’t know weakness. He’s the God who knows what it’s like to be hurt and to suffer. He knows what it’s like to lose someone you love (John 11), but most importantly He’s the One who can walk us through it.

    The horror and pain that these people have and are going through is such that many of us can’t nearly relate to. My heart goes out to these families as well as my prayers for what I know will be a very hard Christmas season.

  • Thank you. When I found out I was shocked. So many emotions were surging through me I had no idea what to do. So many things have happened lately in our neighborhood similar to this. Almost all of them have been by young adults. Sometimes it feels like no where is safe… nowhere. You have reminded me that the only true safe haven is Jesus Christ. Thank you.

  • Noise.
    Chaos calls
    From each window
    For lives are falling,
    And now faith is failing,
    We can’t find any meaning.
    Our souls have shattered, our trust stalls,
    The hardest, saddest day we’ve yet known..
    We can’t forget it.
    We are past forgiving.
    They did nothing, the innocents;
    Wrong place… wrong time… what world is this?
    No hugs. No smiles. Unbelievable.
    Never stops.
    No one to hear
    The screams of distress.
    Life stands still. It’s pointless.
    Nobody cares. Why should they?
    Does God hear the sound of a loss?
    They would not have died were He here.
    Brave face.
    Younger child.
    They need help too.
    They don’t understand
    Why sister won’t come back,
    Why their mommy cries today,
    And Daddy doesn’t use his smile/
    Home is cold and empty, through and through.
    A light,
    Is it hope?
    Could hope exist?
    How can hope come now?
    Not when we are without
    all our children’s love and life
    and we must carry on alone!
    Then a promise breaks through the gray clouds.
    Is here.
    He is there.
    He is with them,
    Holds all our children,
    Heavens gates are opened,
    And we wake without our fear,
    For now we know that God does care!
    Soon we’ll see our boys and girls again.

    And though the world may never understand,
    However much they imagine that they can,
    Throught darkness we can see our loving Father’s plan,
    That over every grief and trial and nightmare expands.
    And somewhere God is holding every son’s and daughter’s hand.


    This is a poem I wrote after hearing this sad news. But, as I told a friend, don’t tell the story of a person’s death. Tell it as the story of their life. They walked on earth for X number of years and then they woke up in heaven and lived. I tell you the truth that Daniel Barden, 7; Josephine Gay, 7; Madeleine Hsu, 6; Catherine Hubbard, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; James Mattioli, 6; Jack Pinto, 6; Caroline Previdi, 6; Avielle Richman, 6; Benjamin Wheeler, 6; Allison Wyatt, 6; Jessica Rekos, 6; Noah Pozner, 6; Emilie Parker, 6; Grace McDonnell, 7; Ana Marquez-Greene, 6; Jesse Lewis, 6; Dylan Hockley, 6; Olivia Engel, 6 and Charlotte Bacon, 6 have never been more alive.

    Always praying!

  • My heart goes out to the families as well. However we must keep our right minds and remember that the cause of such a tragedy is not firearm but it is the person behind the firearm. The person who did the shooting was not a follower of Christ ( obviously ) and I would like to state that we need to put Christ back in the schools. Gun bans are not going to fix the crime and murder rates. The criminals sill always find the weapons they need. It is Jesus returning to the schools that will decrease these rates.

By Brett Harris
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →