Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Pittsburgh Story

Several weeks ago, our city was saddened by the tragic death of five little children who perished as their house burned to the ground. Their eight-year-old sibling brothers escaped alive but were unable to rescue their little brothers and sisters. The mothers admitted to leaving the children in the care of the eight-year-old boys while they went out for a drink.

Five little promises, snuffed out in a moment. Five little caskets, lowered into the ground. Five precious angels, committed into the arms of Jesus.

I'm not sure why but this story has gripped my heart, perhaps because our family lost our home to fire when I was twelve. Daily it seems, another story from another angle appears in the local paper. Some would say "let it go." I for one am glad people are still thinking about this.

Last week I looked into the faces of those young mothers who will forever bear the consequence of their actions, and wondered, will anyone show them any mercy? Isn't our God the God of justice AND mercy? I was heartened to read this article where at least one other person voiced his same concerns. It's so easy to mete out mental judgment on these women. Yet what if it were one of our relatives? The unthinkable can happen to any of us, something author and speaker Carol Kent came face to face with when her son stood trial and was sentenced for murder.

And then today, I was encouraged again to read this article by a local pastor who is looking beyond the sadness of this tragedy to the heart of the problem. He speaks to our naivete. How could this happen, we ask. A quick search on the web lead me to a newsletter about the ministries of this church, and it was clear he is not merely asking a rhetorical question but rather one he seeks to help answer within his own community.

I was left with the recognition that I am among the naive. But I don't have to be. All I need to do is open my eyes and look around me. And then ask God what he would have me do.