I like to understand things. I want to understand why these things happen, to know the reason, have some kind of explanation, and put it in its Sunday best, smooth out the wrinkles and straighten the starched collar, and fit it inside a box, make sense of it all.
But I suppose there are some things that go well beyond my meager comprehension.
Honestly, it’s so much easier to hear about shootings in other states, in the papers, on facebook, or on the news. It’s distant. It’s very saddening for sure, but it’s not here, it’s not personal. I’m safe here. We’re safe here.
The only thing I can compare it to is like being inside your house, where you’re comfortable and warm, and staring out the window at the lightening storm outside. It’s happening for sure, but we’re inside, we’re safe. We have nothing to worry about. And then, suddenly, all of that is ripped away — and now you’re standing outside, in the storm, now exposed to the wind and the rain, afraid, with nowhere to hide, nowhere to be safe. And at times you cry out to God and all you can hear is your voice echoing in these empty walls?
This is my hometown. I knew some of the students, some of those who were in the rooms next door, the buildings nearby. The familiarity, peace, and security of my small community has been breached.
I just hardly know what to think anymore.
It’s easy enough to stifle the questions threatening to slip from the corners of my eyes and roll down my cheeks, but the pain … the pain is something that demands to be felt. I may not have been directly impacted, but my body is numb and my mind feels everything. It’s like I’m walking in a trance, like I’m just moving my arms and legs here and there, completing every-day tasks that need to be done, but I’m not here. I’m not sure exactly where I am — caught somewhere in-between reality and emotion.
I know I am just rambling, but I hardly know how to put it in words. My thoughts are as unstructured and messy as my writing. I suppose there really are no words for this.
It’s important that we remember that we are all part of the Story. We are in that Story, and everything, big or small, finds its meaning and significance in the grand scheme of things. The basic story line is this: God created the world, man sinned, God redeemed man through Jesus Christ, and there will be a final consummation when God judges, conquers, and restores all things. You see, as humans, we can’t see the forest for the trees. We are living within the moment, and our knowledge is limited by our perspective, but God sees (and is in control of) the bigger picture. He knows what will happen because He is in control of what will happen.
I have heard people say that Christianity is just some crutch we use, an illusion, a fictitious hope that there is a reason for everything — a fairy tale for grown-ups. Why would God, so Omnipotent and perfectly Good, allow all this to happen anyway? Why did He create Evil if He hates it so much? Where is justice or mercy in that? Because – after all – if He could have stopped it, He would, right?
This did not take God by surprise, nor was He wringing His hands or pulling at His collar trying to come up with Plan B. We know that God is not the author of evil (James 1:13). But if He is indeed in charge of everything, why does He allow the wicked to flourish (Ps. 92:5-7)? This shouldn’t discourage us, it should give us hope (Rom. 8:19-25). We can take comfort — evildoers will not last forever (Prov. 16:4; Ps. 37:1-2 7, 9-10, 12-15, 28; Job 14:2), and there is nothing God does not rule over (Dan. 4:35). The wicked — though they will to do wrong or harm — are merely instruments that God uses to demonstrate the fullness of His glory (Ps. 76:10, Rom. 9:22-23, Is. 10).
“Are you a Christian?” — are words echoing in my mind, in a steady rhythm, like a pendulum, sometimes loud, sometimes soft. I cannot tell you how much it floors me, the bravery these fellow believers had to stand up and say, “Yes”. In the heat of the moment, when adrenaline is pounding in your veins, and you are shaking, staring into the end of a gun’s barrel and the hateful eyes of a calloused heart, would your first response be to stand in the name of Christ?
Although we see this as a tragedy (which it certainly is), really, and truly, what more honorable way to die, than for our Lord and Savior? For the One who poured out His life for us? To live out the words: “to live is Christ; to die is gain”? Everything we suffer here on earth will not even be able to compare to the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). They are now Home, celebrating and being rewarded for their bravery and their devotion to Christ.
So despite my fears and waves of emotion, I know the One who is in control of it all. I look to the heavens and remember, gratefully, even in rain, there is Someone greater than ourselves, Someone beyond the unfathomable.
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You yourself are the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”
— C.S. Lewis
Be still, my heart. Selah.