But sometimes, my friends... sometimes people say things that are not helpful. And I've about lost patience.
Now, I am not referring to those who, with the best of intentions, inadvertently blurt out some trite phrase that is more appalling than appealing, more hindrance than help. They aren't the ones who get under my skin. Mostly I'm able to remind myself that they mean well, overlook the action, and focus on the intent and the concern behind it. After all, it happens to all of us at one time or another. Goodness knows I've had my own share of foot-in-mouth moments.
No, what I mean are the kinds of things people say with far less altruistic motives. Like...
"We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools."
First, I find the suggestion that people in that school in Connecticut, or any school, do not or cannot have lives of faith and prayer simply because some official does not force the issue, to be simply ludicrous. It certainly did not stop me, or many of my friends, or my children and their friends. In fact, if I dug out my old (public) high school yearbook I could show you a picture of our church's youth group. It's not in there because it was a school activity; they took our picture because we were a group of students taking part in our community in this way. It was something we did on our own because it was important to us. Which is the way faith, and prayer, works best.
But this statement is worse than ludicrous. Quite bluntly, to say that God has been somehow "removed" from school is both arrogant and blasphemous on its face. Do we honestly believe that any human being, or any human action, can possibly be powerful enough to keep God out of anywhere??
I do not believe this has anything to do with comfort or good intentions. I believe this is an effort to make political points using religious language as a political tool. Offensive at anytime, and doubly so in the face of this horrible tragedy.
Children didn't get killed in Connecticut because Christian prayers are not required in public schools. Children got killed because a damaged soul didn't get the help he needed and had easy access to weapons specifically designed for wholesale slaughter. If you want to get political, address those issues. And by all means, pray while you're doing it-- for guidance, for peace, for grace and comfort, for justice... or whatever else it occurs to you to take before God in prayer.
But do not presume that you have any say over where God is, or is not. I guarantee that's above your pay grade.