Concerts and bombs. Music and mayhem. No! They should not go together! Dear parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins and friends of Manchester, England . . . we hurt with you. It pierces our hearts that 22 of your loved ones were killed and over 100 injured by a ruthless killer or killers.
Many of us here on U.S. soil live in constant fear that our children will one day end up in the wrong place at the wrong time like yours did. We’ve come to expect bad news due to our children’s dangerous behaviors and choices, but that wasn’t the case for you on May 22nd. You weren’t expecting any such thing when your worst nightmare occurred. We want you to know that we’re so, so sorry. Words fail us. Heaviness lingers as we watch the news unfold.
When we heard of your tragedy, this unthinkable violence, we ached for you. Parents and grandparents everywhere, who understand what it is to love a child or grandchild more than their own lives, heaved a long, deep sigh. We groaned and felt a tinge of your grief, as much as is possible for another person to empathize with the loss if another.
We can only imagine what it must be like for you. What began as a fun, care-free evening for your child . . . you could never have imagined would end like this. Not in your city. Not to your family. Not to your child. Your son. Your daughter. Your grandchild or other loved one.
How can it be? How can another human being be capable of such brutality against another human being? Our minds can’t comprehend it. How can you deaden your heart to not feel or care . . . about the shock. The horror. The pain. The death. The grief and loss. I don’t know. I just don’t know.
We know it happens. We see the news reports way too often. And yet it’s still not easy to grasp this kind of hatred and violence, but then evil knows no limits. No boundaries. It lurks in the shadows of every nation, city, and community. It’s everywhere.
What happened in your city, Manchester, reminded me that we are in a battle for the lives and souls of our children. For us in America, it’s often an unseen enemy in an invisible realm. This enemy becomes more obvious when it surfaces in less subtle forms: drugs and alcohol, gang violence and other illegal activity, self-injury or eating disorders, mental illness, suicide attempts, pornography and sex addiction or suicide attempts. But we never expect it to come like it did to you in the form of a terrorist’s bomb. The battle just got real for you.
Parents, if you know where your child is tonight, please tell them how much you love them. Pull them close and give them a hug. Maybe it’s been a long time. Make a memory if you can. Say the positive things you think of but never get around to verbalizing. Have a meaningful conversation – at least try – to talk about things that matter. Tell them that they matter, not just to you and your family, but to the world. It wouldn’t be the same without them in it.
Tell them you will always love them no matter what they’ve done or what’s been done to them – even if you’ve told them before, tell them again. None of us can hear something like this often enough. Those words are like honey for the soul. They’re delicious blessings that permeate the soil of your being and make you blossom like a flower.
Grieving families of Manchester, England, thousands – maybe millions – of American mothers and fathers are praying for you and your children today. If they’re recovering from injuries and trauma or are fighting for their lives, please be comforted in some small way to know that others care.
If you’re planning a funeral or just had one, blindsided by overwhelming grief, we’re deeply sorry. We want you to know we stand with you. Grief is a universal language. It has no nationality, skin color or borders. It creates a bond that unites us as members of the family of man.
And so today we pray for your emotional and spiritual healing. We pray for comfort in your unspeakable loss; for the ability to process the shock in a healthy way, and for a spirit of resilience so you can rise up from the ashes like the Phoenix to go forward from this time stronger than ever before.
May your scars transform you, but not into bitter, vengeful people. May they transform you into a force to be reckoned with. A force for good that can bring peace and hope and forgiveness to a hurting world.
I believe that hate and evil and despair can be defeated by the power of love and faith and hope. Only God can give this power. May He give it to you.
This verse from the Bible has given me great comfort many times. I pray it will comfort you:
“One day he will wipe away every tear from our eyes” (Revelation 21:4).
What about you? How has God comforted you during times of grief and loss? What would you like to say to hurting families of Manchester, England?
photo cred. Manchester Evening News
**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! TODAY you can listen to a 3-part series of interviews we did about our journey with our daughter with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lapine on Family Life Today’s radio broadcast. Or go here to listen online at their website.
We’d love to know what you thought about our interview! Was it helpful? Encouraging?