Pastor First Baptist Church Gonzales
I am a native Floridian and remember well the horror in 1981 when Adam Walsh, the six-year-old son of John and Reve Walsh, was abducted from a Hollywood, Florida mall, and then subsequently murdered and beheaded.
A year ago this month the story broke in the media that the 27-year-old case was finally closed by the Hollywood Police Department. Adam’s murderer was believed to be a drifter named Ottis Toole who died in prison in 1996. The police announced that if Toole were still alive he would be arrested for the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh.
The pain the Walshs’ have endured is beyond words. I was especially gripped by John Walsh’s statement with the announced closure of his son’s case, “For 27 years, we have been asking ourselves, ‘Who would take a 6-year-old boy and murder him and decapitate him? Who?”
I am grateful that the Walshs’ have received some sense of closure. May the Lord comfort them and strengthen them in the days ahead. They have championed the righteous pursuit and protection of missing and abducted children in the United States.
It would be sad enough if Adam Walsh were the only child brutalized in this world, but presently, according to Klaas Kids Foundation, parents and primary care givers call law enforcement 2,100 times per day to report the disappearance of a child.
Most of these cases are resolved quickly with the recovery of the child. However, we live in a country where the U.S. Justice Department is prompted to conduct studies with names like, National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children.
In a 2002 report, there were estimated 115 stereotypical kidnappings where a stranger abducted and transported a child “50 or more miles, detained overnight, held for ransom or with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed.” In these cases, the Amber Alert Registry website shares Justice Department research that reveals that “74 percent of tragic outcomes after a child abduction occurred within three hours of being taken.”
With such statistics, the pain of this world becomes frontal. For me, there is only one comfort among this massive sorrow. My comfort is the hope found in Jesus Christ. It was into such a world that Jesus Christ was born. A world saturated with tears and sorrow and violence and hatred.
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth, we read of Herod’s response after being side-stepped by the magi. Filled with wrath, Herod dispatched his soldiers to go to Bethlehem and kill all the male children from two years old and under. John Walsh’s question comes to mind, “Who would do such a thing?”
Matthew notes that this slaughter of the children by Herod was a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy,
“A voice was heard in ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children: and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” (Matthew 2:18)
Perhaps the strongest apologetic for the Christian faith is that God Himself walked on this earth and breathed our air and tasted the ravages of this fallen planet. From Bethlehem’s manger to Calvary’s cross, Jesus Christ came face-to-face with the pain of this world. He was a man of sorrows, and he was acquainted with grief.He identified with sinners, and yet never sinned himself.
Ultimately, Jesus gave his life as a once-for-all payment for sins, that whoever turns from their sins and believes on him shall pass from death into life. His death was not the final word, for three days later he arose from the dead proving that he was really who he said he was – God.
Someone once said that if tears were indelible ink we would all be stained forever.
For those in Christ, our great Savior has given to us a living hope for the tears of this life. He has given to us a rock upon which to stand when we are tormented with the questions “Who?” or “Why?”
Jesus is also preparing a place for those who trust Him where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) This is a great reason to say, “Merry Christmas!”