Grieving the One Year Anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Tragedy

Steve Mayo
God promises to comfort those who mourn. As we continue to grieve the lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a year ago, we're believing God will make good on His promise.

Last January, I shared a sermon in CCA’s High School Chapel on Matthew 5:4, which says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” At the time, the application was mostly hypothetical. With the exception of a few who had experienced the loss of a loved one, the majority of our school community only knew about grief and mourning theoretically. Then, just weeks later, on February 14, 2018, all of South Florida was shaken by the news of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that took the lives of 17 people — students, children, family members, and friends and we needed that verse to be true more than ever.
It's difficult to reconcile the hurt we feel with the God we believe to be good and the things we believe to be true.
A day after the shooting, a CCA student shared with me, “Mr. Mayo, I lost four friends, and I have two more in the hospital. I don’t know how to deal with my life right now.” Today, almost a year later, many are still grieving. With circumstances like this, I’ve discovered it’s difficult to reconcile the hurt we feel with the God we believe to be good and the things we believe to be true. I found myself wondering, Will God really comfort those who are mourning, angry, and wrestling with their hurt? When I find myself here, I turn to Scripture to guide me. While reading my Bible, I felt these words pressed upon my heart: “I can trust God.”

I can trust God understands my pain and anger towards Him.
I can trust God with the overwhelming hurt and loss I still feel.
I can trust God with my unanswered questions.
I can trust God will, in time, comfort and heal me with His grace.

I've seen God’s promise become a reality as I watched students and faculty members at CCA comfort one another in the days, weeks, and months after the tragedy. There are moments when we’ve been strong and there are moments when we’ve needed someone to help pick us up off the floor. It’s important that we give ourselves and others that same grace to process and be transparent. Though nothing could ever reconcile the loss and injustice, I do believe that God can transform even the deepest of pain into something that brings healing, hope, and life to others.
God can transform even the deepest of pain into something that brings healing, hope, and life to others.
Revelation 21:4–5 says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Some beautiful things are coming from the worst of contrived evil, and there is more to come. In honor of the MSD victims, the Broward County School Board is sponsoring a Day of Service and Love and CCA Student Leaders will be serving with Feed My Starving Children. There will also be commemorative events for families to attend hosted by the City of Parkland and the City of Coral Springs.

Be sensitive to those around you who still have more hurt and sadness to process — be the comforting presence they may need, and rejoice with those who find healing. If you’re grieving, reach out to those you trust. And even in the midst of what you know are the worst of circumstances, hold onto what you know is true — God will comfort you as you grieve.

You can support Marjory Stoneman Douglas students and faculty financially by purchasing #MSDStrong apparel.

 

Steve Mayo serves as the Director of Discipleship at CCA. In his role as director of youth discipleship he also assists in overseeing the CCFL six78 and HSM ministries. He and his wife Morgan have three children, Titus, Quincy, and Maxwell, who all attend CCA.
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