But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17
But I cried Tuesday evening as I watched an interview by CNN’s Anderson Cooper of Chris and Lynn McDonnell. The McDonnells’ daughter Grace was among the children killed last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
That interview was among the most powerful demonstrations of hope, grace, and faith I’ve ever witnessed.
Four days after their beautiful daughter died in an absolutely senseless, unnecessary tragedy, these parents sat with smiles on their faces and talked about peace and love. With a total absence of bitterness they shared what they’d learned from Grace.
“She taught us you have to live for the future, happiness and peace,” said Chris, “and not to divert your energy to hate and anger.”
Both parents agreed that telling Grace’s brother Jack was perhaps the toughest part of the whole experience. They want him to understand the importance of moving forward without anger.
“I told Jack that he could never live with hate. Grace didn’t have an ounce of hate in her. And so we have to live through Grace and realize that hate is not how our family is,” said Grace’s mom. “She was all about peace.”
They talked about visiting Grace’s small white casket with a bunch of colored markers and decorating it with the artwork she loved so much. After entering the room with a sense of dread, Lynn described leaving with an incredible sense of calmness and peace.
This family knows they have tough days ahead. I sensed they’re not in denial about their grief. But they’re absolutely committed to intentionally remembering Grace with, well, grace.
I didn’t think it was possible for parents who have experienced such a meaningless loss to look forward with this sort of commitment to love. But these are obviously people who understand the reality of authentic hope.
And it’s not a platitude…hope changes what’s possible.
I suspect Chris and Lynn will spend the rest of their lives learning from their daughter how to “…receive the kingdom of God like a little child.”
I think we could all learn from them and their amazing Grace.
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