The Collective Conscience of a Nation Calls Out!
The question expressed in the title may be the most frequent inquiry in all Christendom. With the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the collective conscience of our nation is asking, why? Most people who believe in a spiritual being in charge of all are attaching God to that question. Is there a Biblical answer to these questions? I am not a theologian; I am a former schoolteacher. But every Christian has a theology and to be viable it must work in good and bad times. Before delving into this issue I must say that the finite can never totally understand the infinite. Therefore, there will always be some unanswered questions in the fine print. But I do believe there are broad biblical answers that can get us through such a horrific event with our faith intact.
God is Sovereign and Man is Free
If there is a God, how could he allow something like this to happen? This question has echoed in the hearts of many across this land. It calls into question the very existence of God. Not to mention that it implies that God may not care, and if He does, He is not able to do anything about it. As Christians we must be able to answer this question.
God is sovereign and man is free. This is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith. God is able to work His sovereign will and yet still give man his free will. Try and wrap that one around your earthly mind. How does it work in everyday life? How did it play out on that December day in that New England town? I don’t know. And I am in good company, as the Church has been discussing it for centuries without a clear-cut consensus. Maybe what God has not revealed plainly (in the Bible), we should not try to explain totally. Whatever the case may be, there is a God who rules in the affairs of men, but has chosen to give man a measure of freedom in that process. This may be the point of wisdom that can explain why we have such unthinkable evil in a world governed by a good God.
There is a case in point in the Bible that deals with hatred and murder.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. (Genesis 4:6-8)
Clearly, it was not God’s intent or desire for Cain to commit murder. God reasonably explained to Cain the right and wrong response to anger and the corresponding blessing or consequence. Cain used his freedom to ignore a God who is only seeking his well being and murdered Abel. Evil is perpetrated in this world when we disregard the kind and just intentions of God. At this point you might be thinking would it not have been better if God had made us without the ability to hate? But if He had, God also would have had to create us without the ability to love. Without evil, good has no meaning. You can’t have one without the other. God did not create us to be puppets.
You might also be thinking that I have described a God that has His hands tied behind His back. Not so. God sees the end from the beginning with an eternal perspective. We see only a small clip of the movie with a temporal perception. God has a plan. We live in a fallen world where evil is pervasive. There is a titanic struggle between good and evil. Yes, at times it does seem like evil triumphs over good, but make no mistake about it, there is a God who rules and reigns in this universe. The end has already been decided.
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
(Revelations 21:8 NASB)
The gunman did not avoid responsibility by killing himself. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished... (Nahum 1:3 NASB). God always has the last say. Ultimately justice prevails and God will reward good and punish all evil.
Acts of Unimaginable Kindness
“Well and good on judgment day!” you might say. What about the anger we feel now when we look at the pictures of those innocent children taken from us? Or how do we deal now with the frustration we feel because we can’t do anything to lessen the pain of the parents, relatives, and friends of those slain? Again, let’s look to God’s Word for the answer:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21 NASB)
On that fateful early December morning, Adam Lanza showed no mercy and perpetrated an unthinkable act of rage on the weakest and most vulnerable among us and on those who cared for them. Maybe this week we should target the weakest and most vulnerable among us with unimaginable acts of kindness and mercy. If we do, good may start to overcome evil, and our healing may begin.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing