I don’t generally – well, ever really – share my unsolicited opinions online about trending news stories. But this alligator tragedy has struck a chord in my heart. Caleb is two – the same age as the little boy who died. I cannot fathom the horror and helplessness of watching your child endure such a gruesome death. It’s unbearable to think about. The aftermath of guilt, heartache, and loss that the family will face is hard to imagine. When it comes to losing a child, there’s just nothing – absolutely nothing – that compares. We know this all too well, though our stories are different.
It seems that the first reaction in our culture tends to be judgment and criticism and finger pointing and arguing – void of much compassion or tenderness. They should have (insert opinion). They shouldn’t have (insert criticism). In fact, I’m just as guilty as the next guy for responding with that attitude in so many situations. Lord, please help me. There have been countless times that God has gently reminded me to slow down before making judgments. I often don’t know peoples’ stories. And usually when I learn about them, it changes my perspective and better shapes my responses. No longer is it a rushed judgment, but rather a thoughtful response colored with truth and grace.
This young family just witnessed their precious child get eaten by an alligator.
Now is probably not the most appropriate time to share opinions about the shoulda, woulda, couldas. Now is the time to share your heart.
There probably are things that could have been done differently. But perhaps we should pause to show mercy? A group of the right people should certainly get together very soon to reflect and discuss how to avoid situations like this in the future. But right now, it’s not about that. Right now, the priority is mercy.
I pray that people will simply have the sensitivity to “mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15). Be sad with this family. Pray for them. Shed tears with them. Send them a card or flowers or memorial gift. Do something that shares in their grief and honors their little boy’s life.
“Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).