I remember watching the news about the Columbine shootings from my college dorm room.  I was so sad.  So very sad.  But hearing the news about the school shooting today–in an elementary school, many of the victims being from the same kindergarten–I felt a stabbing grief that was unlike anything I’ve experienced.  I can only assume it is because now I’m a mommy, I have a child who was in kindergarten last year and one next year.  Because I know the way my stomach drops when I see I’m getting a call from the school during class hours and I worry that my child has broken an arm or puked in class.  I’m sure like many of us, just as I was able to distract myself from the horror, a wave of it would wash over me.  I found myself just sobbing, SOBBING as I thought of the fear of those kids and teachers, and the parents.  OH, Lord.  The parents.  Racing through town, only to be kept away from the school while they waited the most agonizing minutes of their lives, wanting to know of their child was in the room where “the classroom is unaccounted for.”  I couldn’t stop crying today.

In fact, I was feeling so overwhelmed by my vicarious grief that I was reminded of a story I heard recently by Lysa Terquerst.  She said she was speaking at a women’s conference and her staff came to get her back stage to comfort a woman out in the lobby who was upset.  Upset was an understatement.  This sweet grandma had just received news that her two precious grandchildren had burned to death in a fire that morning, a fire it seems was set by their mother’s boyfriend.  The kids had been with her the week before, and she had wanted to keep them, but for whatever reason, could not, and had to put them on a plane back to their mother.  And now they were gone.  This women, rightfully so, was OVERCOME with grief and sorrow.  She was inconsolable, and Lysa said she had no idea how to even begin to comfort her.  Lysa, a wise author and speaker, had no words.

So she just cried with the woman and started saying the name of Jesus.  Over and over.  “Jesus.   Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.  Oh, Jesus.” And soon the woman, through her sobs, starting saying it with her.  It did not take her grief away.  It did not make it all better.  But it gave her a life raft when she was drowning.  It gave her a glimmer of hope when she had NONE.  If it did not give her immediate peace, it pointed her in the direction of the Prince of Peace.

I will never forget this story, and I’ve found myself coming back to it on days like this.  I know it might sound silly if you don’t know Jesus in the same way I do.  But all I can tell you is this: there is POWER in that name. When I don’t know what to do.  When I don’t know what to say. When my heart is overwhelmed and broken.  When I can’t explain or understand this broken world.  When so much innocent blood was shed.  When evil seems to have won.  When I need a life raft because I feel like I’m drowning in the messed up place that is NOT MY HOME.





Oh, Jesus, be near.


  1. oh goodness, crying again. SO well said Jen. A friend of mine told me this too, that sometimes when she is so overwhelmed (her child is ill) she lays in bed at night and can say nothing but JESUS. You put into words exactly how yesterday went for me too- distraction followed by grief. I cannot help but think about parents who have hidden christmas gifts at home for these kids, the ones who were short tempered with their baby that morning, the ones who will dread the thought of opening the door to their child’s room. I wish there was something to do about this, and all I can figure to do is pray- but I don’t even know what to pray. Anyhow, thanks for blogging this.

  2. This is something I’ve done since childhood. I don’t know why; it’s just always been instinctive. My favorite worship songs always involve Jesus’ name, and my go-to song I sing when I’m scared is “Jesus….Jesus….Jesus…there’s just something about that name.”

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