Scrabbling for sense

As a father of a first grader, Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, CT, hit particularly close to home.

It didn’t start that way. I first saw the news in passing on a muted television tuned to CNN. I thought we had been here before: Anti-social youth unleashes insurmountable angst against helpless victims in unspeakably violent spree.

As the details rolled in, some of the killer’s characteristics did seem sadly familiar. Loner. Fringe-walker. Dressed in black. Divorced home.

Then came details that made this time different, more tragic. Elementary school. First graders and administrators. Mother among victims. Multiple gunshot wounds. Victims’ families given headshot photographs only. Crime scene too grotesque to enter.

With 26 dead, news reports called it the second worst campus shooting in U.S. history. Virginia Tech lost 32 in 2007. But if you talk in terms of life lost, not just lives lost, Newtown seems worse. The victims so young. So much potential so brutally extinguished.

Heretofore, Newtown’s only national mention consisted of being where the popular board game Scrabble was developed in the 1940s. The word “scrabble”, an actual English verb, means “to scratch, claw, or grope about frantically.”

And scrabble we do. We desperately reach for any sense whatsoever to this latest expression of senseless madness. At Christmas, no less.

Author Max Lucado proposes that it is no small detail that Jesus came at night, in darkness, to a land with a jealous king with plans to systematically eliminate innocent children.

Here again, in 2012, Christ comes at night. In the darkness of our sadness, anger, confusion and grief.

As the struggle between good and evil returns to national consciousness, we re-acquaint with this familiar truth: Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10).

And we acquaint with this perhaps less known truth: he finds no shame in devouring the youngest among us. Revelation 12 captures what happened in the spiritual realm on the night of Christ’s birth:

“The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child…Then war broke out in heaven.

“Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.”

This line provides our lone light of hope in the deep darkness: “he was not strong enough.”

While he may be strong enough to kill the body, he is not strong enough to kill the soul. The tortured children of Sandy Hook Elementary live on with their Creator. They had not lived long enough to be led astray.

As for Adam Lanza, a youth of sorts himself, questions abound. Was it premeditated murder, mental illness, an inability to decipher right from wrong, an overtaking by another being? I don’t know. No one does. But I do believe this hard truth: What happens to us in life is not our responsibility. How we respond to what happens to us is.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at 

3 Responses to “Scrabbling for sense”

  1. 1 John Halloran December 19, 2012 at 12:17

    Thanks for this! Well-written… you should be getting my “Davidstar” which is my annual Christmas letter, with my thoughts, prayers, today/tomorrow… God bless!!

  2. 2 Amy Stroup December 19, 2012 at 17:33

    Good words KT see ya soon !

    From: Kevin Thompson Reply-To: Kevin Thompson Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:54 AM To: Stroup Stroup Subject: [New post] Scrabbling for sense Kevin Thompson posted: “As a father of a first grader, Fridays tragedy in Newtown, CT, hit particularly close to home. It didnt start that way. I first saw the news in passing on a muted television tuned to CNN. I thought we had been here before: Anti-social youth unlea”

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