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I trust in God and am not afraid; I praise him for what he has promised. What can a mere human being do to me? Psalm 56:4

It was a day like any other for the no-nonsense school bookkeeper. Up early. Taking care of her special needs son. Getting dressed. Hitting the road to get to work.

When she arrived it seemed like business as usual… until the man in black barged in. He’d just been outside, shooting rounds of ammunition at police, and now here he was. Right in front of her. And she was his hostage.

But as the day wore on, it became clear that Antoinette Tuff was a force to be reckoned with.

At one point, the gunman mentioned suicide and she deterred him with her own story.

“No. You don’t want that. You gonna be okay. I thought the same thing.  You know, I tried to commit suicide last year after my husband left me, but look at me now. I’m still working and everything is okay.”

She talked the armed gunman out of hurting himself or anyone else and made headlines around the world.

After it was over, she said it was her faith that had sustained her.

“I give it all to God. I’m not the hero. I was terrified,” she told the media.

The principal said that Tuff was one of three school employees who had been specifically trained for hostile situations. That surely must have helped, but it was Tuff’s own personal traumas that gave her the heart of compassion and the words of healing she needed on that fateful day.

This event reminds us that faith is a forcefield in a world filled with turmoil and that troubles are really training. What you’ve been through  makes your faith deeper, your compassion more concrete. You can honestly say, “I know how it feels,” because you’ve been there too. 

After the police took away the gunman, Ms. Tuff spoke to the 911 operator she’d spoken with throughout the ordeal.

“I’m going to tell you something baby — I’ve never been so scared in all the days in my life,” she said, “Oh, Jesus! Oh, God!”

Now that’s what I call grace in action.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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