How long, O Lord? Will you forget us forever?
How long will you hide your face from us?
How long must we bear pain in our souls,
and have sorrow in our hearts all day long?
- Psalm 13:1-2
These words of the Psalmist tug on our hearts as we try to absorb the unthinkable. How long, O Lord?
We are overwhelmed and heartbroken by the news of yet another school shooting, this time very close to home.
Below is a letter from our Bethany pastors:
November 9, 2022
"And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? You are my hope." - Psalm 39:7
Dear Bethany family,
A student at Ingraham High School was shot yesterday. The student died hours later at Harborview Medical Center. Those are two very hard sentences to write and even harder to acknowledge that this is our reality. It is difficult to know what to say in the way of pastoral counsel to our children and their parents, teachers and administrators, and to all of you grandparents, friends and members at Bethany. As humans, we want to say, "everything will be alright." But that's hard to say in a country that has such a long love affair with violence and guns.
What we want to say is that we love you. We love you parents. We love you kids. We love you teachers, staff and administrators.
And we want to say a word on hope. Hope in the Bible is not optimism. Biblical Hope is not focused on circumstances, but on a person. Christian hope is a confidence in the God who is ultimately faithful and who is committed to putting the world right. God's raising of Jesus from the dead is the ultimate testimony to God's faithfulness and commitment to make God's Reign a reality. Living in faith is the capacity to trust this person without sidestepping the brokenness and pain of where we walk and live.
We want you to know that Bethany is a place where you can bring your sorrow, your outrage, your frustration, your fear, and your deep mourning. And together we ask "How long, O Lord?" If any of you would like pastoral care, please reach out to Pastor Doug, Marisa, Bianca or Willy.
Lord God, you who have given us life and new life in Christ, pour out your love and your comfort on this family which has lost a child. This child went to school and never came home. Be the hope that this family needs in all their waiting and grieving.
Be present with the family who will lose a child to prison. Be solid ground beneath their feet. Bring good people their way.
Bring wisdom and discernment to the administrative and teaching staff at Ingraham High School. Move among students, parents, and families, that they be comforted and not lose hope. Bring in the best professionals to treat mental health needs and the debilitating effects of trauma.
Grant spaces in our city where lament and frustration could find voice. Give us pause to grieve. Make us not numb.
Leave us not in our brokenness, O God of steadfast love, O Lord of tenacious solidarity. Mend and heal. Uncover our blindness that we might see truth. Help us remember with the psalmist that "in your light we see light." We wait for you, Lord. You are our hope. Amen.
In the peace of Christ,
Doug Kelly, Pastor
Marisa Gronholz, Director of Formation and Outreach
Bianca Quezada, Director of Children and Family Ministries
Willy Sydenstricker, Youth Associate
Here are a few resources that may be helpful in processing with young people:
- Processing the Tragedy of School Shootings with our youth (Fuller Youth Institute)Pro
- How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings (Common Sense Media)
The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has a page on Gun Violence Policies, Studies, and Resources here.