July 3, 2014
When I first heard the devastating news that Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali’s bodies were discovered outside of Hebron, my knees buckled. Tears filled my eyes, and my heart would not accept the words that my mind knew were true. After 18 days of intense prayer, worship, and optimism, the miracle we had all believed in and hoped for a did not happen.
I sat glued to my computer screen watching the devastating breaking news updates, and it felt like a dream. With all of the prayers for the safety of these three boys that had poured in from around the world , and the profound unity that joined the people of Israel during this ordeal, how could God send us this horrendous ending?
Shaking and crying, I went into my children’s bedroom and lay next to their delicate, sleeping bodies. As I left their room, the reality set in like a clap of thunder: the boys were dead, and our nation was crushed.
Countless thoughts filled my mind, but one question painfully repeated itself: How would I explain to my children that the three boys who they had been praying for, lighting candles for, and drawing pictures for, had been murdered in cold blood? How would I tell my innocent children that the three boys we planned to welcome back with celebration and song were instead returning home in coffins draped in the Israeli flag, to be placed in the holy soil of God’s homeland? “Why, God, does such darkness need to infiltrate the pure hearts of my innocent children?” I called out helplessly.
The next day was difficult for everyone in Israel, as we buried our three boys. As I drove to work, my makeup blurred and my nose red, I realized I was far from the only one affected by the somber news reports. In meetings, stores, and restaurants, it was not uncommon to see adults crying. News reporters’ voices cracked as they spoke, and seasoned politicians were at a loss for words. We are a nation in mourning.
The kidnapping and murder of these three boys on their way home from school was less political for the people of Israel than it was emotional. Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali became the children of each mother and father in Israel, and the big brothers of every child. Their story represented the biggest fear of every parent, and kept the deepest longing for peace burning in the hearts of every person in the free world.
Israel is slowly putting the pieces of our hearts back together, an action we are all too familiar with. I believe that during the 18 days that the IDF was searching for Gilad, Ayal, and Naftali, the people of Israel and her friends reached spiritual levels nearly unmatched. We prayed in unity for a miracle, lifted our voices in brotherhood for peace, and cried out as one that the three empty seats at the dinner table would be filled.
I will never understand God’s ways, but I pray to always have faith in my heart that He is good. Although the prayers that our three boys would come home safely were not answered, I believe we should continue to lift up our prayers as we did for Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, and continue to honor their names, remembering the words of Psalm 133: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
With prayers for shalom, and blessings from the Holy Land,