Almost immediately debate began centering on questions like "How can this happen there?" and "Who's responsible?". While those and other questions may be unanswerable, or at least will take time and discussion to answer, a deeper set of questions arises for the believer.
How can we have FAITH in the midst of this EVIL?
We believe in a loving, powerful, wise and good God.
So, why does He allow this?
Again, this answer is much deeper than can be handled in a 'blog', but suffice it to say that I believe that God IS all of those things, but that He created a world in which free will is key, and we have the choice to submit our lives to Him...or not.
Obviously, many in this world do not.
Obviously, the shooter did not.
Unfortunately, we live in a world which is under the influence of the Evil One (see Part 1 of this blog), and that means that evil will happen.
So, what are we to do? Are we to become fearful and paranoid, attempting to avoid all public places?
No. Pain, tragedy and even evil will find us, no matter how much we try to protect ourselves from it.
So, what is our choice?
I believe our best choice is to commit ourselves to the Lord, to commit family (including our children) to Him, our friends...to entrust every relationship we have to Him. He has the best plans for us--plans for today, and plans for eternity!
If I can trust Him with my everyday life...and the time of my death...then in one sense it doesn't matter the circumstances I face. It doesn't matter whether it's an unusual tragedy, or 'natural causes'. What matters is the God is there at the day of my death, just as He was at the day of my beginning.
As the Psalmist wrote,
"You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." (Psalm 139:16)
And, since I know He loves me and His plan for me is perfect, I need not fear the worst circumstances.
As the saying goes, "I have no fear of what the future holds, for I know Who holds the future."
In the midst of a world rocked with sin and evil, may we turn to the Lord who overcomes both.
In a world of pain and tragedy, may we find comfort in the knowledge that there is beauty and love also.
In the face of evil, may we have faith strong enough to take away fear.
...and may we LIVE with that faith giving us victory every day.
"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?...
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.)” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:31-39)
REST in that love today!