The memory of last week’s theater shooting in Colorado will linger, though there has been some time since the tragic events of late last week.
It’s hard to forget the thought of a man with no motive sneaking into a sold-out movie theater and murdering, in cold blood, 12 innocent moviegoers and injuring over 70 more. For the survivors, this memory will never fade away.
At this time, we choose not to give a detailed play-by-play of the events that day. Enough time has been spent in recreating the horrible moment with unnerving detail.
Instead, we choose to focus on the road ahead, as it will be a rocky one.
The event echos much of the fear and suffering caused by a previous Colorado shooting, the one at Columbine High School. In a letter written just after that tragic event, a teacher described what the current victims and their families must be feeling: “We have a long and uncharted road ahead emotionally. Each day is literally taken now one at a time. The worst part of the day, dear family and friends, is the wake-up moment. From some sleep and peace comes this horrible rush as everything returns again — the emotions, the fears, the restlessness.”
All of us, those close to the event and those far removed, will experience — to some degree — this “horrible rush as everything returns again.” If not now, there will be a time when an event like this touches you. Such is the world in which we live.
One morning, while traveling down this “uncharted road,” you may wake up to this rush of memories and cry out in burst of carefully bottled pain, “Lord, why me?”
There is nothing wrong with coming to this moment. There is nothing wrong with feeling this pain. But it times of absolute grief, in times of desperate anguish, we urge you — as the popular phrase states — to drop to your knees when it becomes too hard to stand.
Just after Columbine, John Bytheway visited those who at witnessed the shootings. He said he struggled to find something to say to those who had seen so much pain in such a small time, but he shared with them his testimony: “If our testimonies are strong on this point and if we feel the absolute assurance that God loves us, we will change our questons. We won’t ask, ‘Why did this happen?’ or ‘Why doesn’t God care about me?’ Instead, our questions will become, ‘What can I learn from this experience?’ or ‘How does the Lord want me to handle this?”
It is hard to imagine good coming from such an event as this, but just as persecution grew the faith and testimonies of the early saints, tragedy — when handled well — can grow our own faith and testimony.
This moment will not come quickly, however. The pioneers, one of our examples of faith in the face of much adversity, learned this lesson countless times. Though falling on one’s knees for strength can fix you in a moment, it is a repeated series of prayer, study and faithful activity that leads to being healed.
Directing faith toward the Lord will lend a peaceful state of mind. Putting trust in Him, through a repetition of that series of prayer, study and faithful activity, will begin a healing process.
While in Jackson County, Missouri, Joseph Smith was given a revelation meant to strengthen the saints during that challenging time. Doctrine and Covenants 58:3-4 states: “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings.”
We urge you in times of uncertainty and pain, as we are currently experiencing, to momentarily casting off your “natural eyes.” We ask that you look to the world around you with a mind aimed toward the will of our Heavenly Father. He knows your pains and your struggles, and though it hurts him to see you struggle, he knows your potential and knows the glory you will receive if you make it through your tribulation well.
Our prayers and our hearts go out to all those affected by the Colorado shooting. We ask all students, staff and faculty to remember the victims in their own prayers and to reach out to any who need their help. Most of all, we urge all who are struggling during this time, whether because of the events in Colorado or for some other reason, to petition to their Father in Heaven and ask him to help bear your burden.
May God be with us all.