Categories
Thought

Let the little children come to me

The abduction and murder of April Jones has had a profound effect on the little town of Machynlleth and on many people around Britain. Her parents, Paul and Coral, have, understandably, been devastated. At the end of the trial Coral made a very dignified and moving statement. It gave an insight into the profound trauma they have been experiencing since April’s abduction on 1 October 2012. She said, “April will be forever in our hearts. We are so moved by the overwhelming support we have had from many people all over the world. We would like to take time now to be with our family and to try to come to terms with the loss of April.”

As the media go away and life in Machynlleth returns to its new normality, the sad consequences for Coral and Paul continue. I remember reading the book, “Goodbye, Dearest Holly” by her father, Kevin Wells. It gave an insight into the depth of pain and grief experienced by parents whose young children are murdered. In her statement at the end of the trial Coral said, “As April’s mother I will live with the guilt of letting her go out to play on the estate that night for the rest of my life.”

Coral could never have anticipated that night that April would be taken and wickedly killed. None of us can fully anticipate the consequences of actions we take in the course of everyday life. All of us do things which we later regret. It is at such times that we need help that is more than human. God is able to meet us at the point of our deepest need. He is able to sympathise with us in our deepest pain, and to help us, because he understands what we are going through. Jesus, his only Son, died a cruel death at the hands of wicked men when he was in the prime of his life.

Many of us are praying for Coral and Paul. They can tenderly commit April into the loving care of God. He is also able to give them strength to face each day and to heal their inner pain. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Categories
Thought

Let the little children come to me

The abduction of 5 year old April Jones has shocked the nation. Bryn-y-Gog estate is a quiet residential area in Machynlleth, a small town in North Wales. We have friends who live in Bryn-y-Gog. It is a place where you would assume it was safe for young children to play outside. The realisation that their daughter had been abducted devastated her parents and sister and brother. The immediate response of neighbours and friends was to join in the search for her. By the next day hundreds of volunteers from many places had joined with the police and mountain rescue teams to scour the town and countryside.

On Sunday 700 people gathered at St Peters Parish Church for a service of prayers and readings. There are times in life when many of us feel a deep sense of our need for God’s help. Desperately sad things happen, which we are powerless to change. Very bad things happen, which reveal the inner struggle we all experience with our sinful nature. In our helplessness we need to know that there is someone who sees and knows, who loves and cares, and who is able to help.

In Psalm 121 the psalmist asks, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?” His answer is, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Machynlleth is surrounded by beautiful mountains. The mountains have stood as silent witnesses to the desperate search for April. They have no power to help, but remind us of God himself. The help we need comes from the One who created the mountains, the omnipotent, all-powerful Lord. He always watches and cares and he is able to help us in our sadness and grief.

Jesus showed a deep love and care for little children. When mothers brought their children to him he said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Little children are very trusting, and sometimes people wickedly betray that trust. But childlike trust in Jesus is something we all need. We don’t understand the sad and tragic things that happen, but we can bring our sadness and grief to him and know that he cares and will help us.