Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not the way it is supposed to be

I was at home early Friday afternoon getting ready to host our Christmas staff party at our house when my wife called me on the phone.

“Have you heard the news?” She said.
“What news?” I asked.
“Someone entered a school and killed several children.”
She didn’t have many details, so I turned on the television and could not believe what I was hearing. A young man entered a small elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut filled with children from five to ten years old, and without a shred of mercy, killed twenty innocent children and six adults, including himself.
My questions
I spent the rest of the afternoon praying, crying, and wondering what kind of person would kill children.
Why do these senseless tragedies happen and will they ever end?
As a father, I tried to put myself in the place of these parents who hugged, kissed their kids and sent them off to school on Friday morning not knowing they had hugged and kissed their children for the last time in this life.    
And how sad that this is happening at Christmas. These shootings should never, ever happen, but every Christmas for the rest of their lives these families will be haunted by their loss.
People everywhere are beginning to ask why. Why did God let this happen? What is God doing about this level of demonic evil in the world?
Good vs. evil
It’s worth noting that the Advent reading for this week is from Zephaniah. The prophet explains both the goodness of God and the badness of the human heart. The LORD within it is righteous; he does no wrong. Every morning he renders his judgment, each dawn without fail; but the unjust knows no shame. Zeph. 3:5
Without question, there is a cosmic struggle between the will of God which is just and the will of human beings which is always unjust. God is good and did not cause these murders. Human beings are unjust and are the source of much of the world's suffering.
God’s response through the cross
Through the cross God responds with both righteousness and justice to the nagging question, “Why don’t you do something about evil?” God did do something—and what He did was so powerful that it ripped in half, from top down, the fabric of the universe itself. 

God does not merely empathize with our sufferings. He came into history as Jesus. What Jesus suffered, God suffered. God sees, knows and weeps with the stricken parents of Newtown. 

Why isn’t Good Friday called Bad Friday? Because we see it in retrospect. Out of the appallingly bad came inexpressible good. That good trumps the bad, because although the bad was temporary, the good is eternal. Had someone delivered Jesus from His suffering, He could not have delivered us from ours. 

In retrospect we believe good triumphs over the horrors that happened this past Friday in Sandy Hook Elementary school. In the mean time we must do all we can to live as followers of the King of Peace. We must pray, and work for those who suffer and mourn. And we must remember that our world is populated with people who often choose evil without a sliver of shame. Thanks be to God that the story of God’s saving work in the world ends not with the defeat of goodness, but the defeat of evil through the coming of Jesus.