Good morning, blog friends. I’m popping in unscheduled today to share something I wish I had no reason to write about. But it’s weighing on my heart, and I’m asking for your prayers.
Yesterday we woke to the news that school was cancelled because a family from our small, close-knit Christian school was involved in a senseless shooting at one of our favorite local parks—a lovely place where families gather to walk and bike and climb playground equipment. Our school family lost a child from the fifth grade class and her dad. Two younger children survived unwounded—one of them a fellow preschool student—and their beautiful mom is recovering in the hospital with thousands of prayers going up from those of us in the school and church community.
Media is calling it a random act of violence, but as believers we know nothing is random to God. Every day ordained for us was written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). When we are stunned and shaken, he remains wholly in control. Nothing surprises him. Nothing thwarts his sovereignty. A friend posted this yesterday, and I can’t say it any better:
“Our family is shaken, our school is shaken, our church is shaken, our community is shaken, but our faith in Jesus Christ is NOT shaken. God knew what would happen last night. He was there. I can’t pretend to know why He allowed THIS to THESE people. What I DO KNOW is He WILL do mighty things.”
It’s times like these we are challenged to place our faith above our limited human understanding. Why does God allow tragedy? I can’t pretend to know, either. But I do know he works all things together for good. Even when we can’t see how.
The victims’ family made a statement yesterday, which a local news channel published on Facebook.
That is the power of Christ in us.
No evil in the world can take it down.
And if mainstream media can post a message like that—which as of this morning has been shared more than 2,400 times and counting—then I’d say God is indeed already doing mighty things.
Please pray for us this morning, as our kids are returning to school where emotions and questions will be hanging thick in the air. This is a lesson in trusting God that I wish I didn’t have to explain to my eight-year-old just yet. But she knows Jesus, and she is imagining what school is like for her friend today in heaven. Bless her. No wonder God tells us to have the faith of a child.
If God is stirring your heart to do something, then please pray for the Stoffel family. I also want to let you know about two memorial funds available to help them. One has been set up by loved ones through a third-party service, which will take a small percentage of each donation (7 percent) while the rest goes directly to the family. If everybody who reads this gives just $1, $3, $5, $10… imagine what God can do with your generosity. That link is: http://www.gofundme.com/tp7qve64
If you prefer to give in a manner that directs 100 percent of your donation to the family, please e-mail me directly at rebeccakopitzke (at) gmail (dot) com, and I’ll be happy to send you a private link to a memorial fund set up by the family’s church.
Most importantly, hug your husband and kids tight. In a world of question marks, God is our only sure answer. I don’t know how anybody lives without him.
Anna Joy says
Praying for this family. Thank you for sharing.
Becky Kopitzke says
Thank you for praying!
May God hold each of them in the palm of His hands. Thank you for sharing. Faith is a gift that unites and knows no boundaries. May it be strengthened for this family, this community, and for us all.
Thank you, Allison. Sweet words.
Cheryl Watson says
God’s plans were in place before the beginning of time and everyone was in the right place, at the appointed time. I will never understand how God sometimes chooses to bring His people home, but I will trust in His grace and His knowledge that surround all the circumstances.
Choose to trust. That is the key, Cheryl, so true.
This is beautiful Becky. I’m with you, I don’t know how anyone can live without God.
Thoughts and prayers to all involved.
Thank you, Melissa! Hugs to you.
Sara Borgstede says
Reading this breaks my heart! I am praying for the family and for all of you. It’s so hard to know the best ways to talk to our children about these very difficult issues. Thank you for your very well written and thoughtful post. Beautiful testimony of faith, Becky! Blessings to you. I’ll hug my family tighter tonight.
I cry when I read Mr. Stoffel’s words to his wife. What a gift he gave her. If she can forgive the shooter, their children , family, friends and some of us can. They won’t have to live their life with hatred. They may heal a bit faster. They carry the words of their Father, Husband, Son and friend with them forever. Forgiveness can be so cleansing. My prayers will continue for the familes and my Thankfulness for Mr. Stoffel’s will remain in my heart.
I’ve been moved to tears by it all, too, Christi. Forgiveness is the gift of Jesus. Because he gave it to us, we can give it to others even in unimaginable circumstances. I am so grateful for that.
kim patterson says
Beautiful words for this family Becky. I believe God never chooses tragedy for us but he does help us heal from the tragedy. I teach at a private christian school and there could be no better place for this family to heal and receive so much needed grace.
Please know that our school had a moment of silence for this family. We continue to pray for everyone involved.
Francis Xavier Marquette campus Teacher
Kim, thank you. The outpouring of support that our school has experienced from others has really touched our community. In the end, we’re all family in Christ’s name. Thank you for your prayers.
Sherry Bayer says
I carry a poem in my purse that helps me, sometimes. It might help you and others.
If I Knew
Hold your loved ones close today,
Whisper in their ear,
Tell them that you love them
And you’ll always hold them dear.
For tomorrow is promised no one,
Young and old alike,
And today may be your last chance
To hold your loved ones tight.
Adapted, Author Unknown
God Bless You
Thank you, Sherry. This certainly puts things in perspective.
I am so late reading this post but glad I pulled it up. My deepest sympathies to this family for their loss and prayers for those left to simultaneously mourn loss and celebrate life spared. Oh what a mixture of emotions…I can only imagine. I pray for the Lord’s peace and certain guidance during this time for the Stoffel family.