Why do truly bad things happen like school shootings? Why does God allow a mad man to take the most precious thing we have on earth–our children life’s and our relationship and life with them?
First, our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Newtown, CN. We too have young ones in kinder and in first grade. We are hugging and loving them all the more after this dreadful day. We can only imagine what its like not to have them sleeping in their beds last night.
I think it’s interesting and important that many of us ask the “why, God?” question at the time of tragedies such as these. Whether we’re coming at it from a place of true desperation or cynicism towards our Creator, there is a reason why we turn to God: In the face of truly bad things happening, we know, on some level there is something or someone truly opposite and good. There can not be something “bad” or unless there is something or someone that is oppositely and objectively good. And that is God.
But why does God allow it, if he’s all powerful, all knowing? I don’t think there are any easy answers. Here are my thoughts though: It’s a mix between our “internal” free will, and the external influences of a truly fallen world.
First, we’ve heard it before, our choices and free will are ours to exercise. God is sovereign and can and does intervene at times. But he seems to by in large allow us our own sovereignty, to make our own choices. We can not truly love or do good unless we have free will, lest we be robots. The ultimate choice is the one whether to live and serve primarily our own self and interests, or to primarily love and serve others and God. And we can spend a lifetime building up our choices, in one direction or another, until our free will becomes, with the exception of God or a relationship based intervention, un-free.
When we spend our life making choices based on our self, our “fleshly” desire of what we want, for what we see, for acquiring things, building up our self, our position, our image, for getting or protecting our respect or acceptance, and in our own effort and power, well things can go wrong. More on this below.
We have external influences too. These include our upbringing and parenting and other important relationships. We can be loved and nurtured, or we can be abused in any number of ways.
As sure as there’s a God, there is also devil who can and does tempt us with his many strategies. These include, especially for young men, the sins of pornography, fornication, drugs, alcohol, along with violent movies, entertainment and video games, which fill our minds with violence. He lies to us, isolates us and tries to condemns us to believe we can’t change.
Now the other explanation could be a pure and simple “external” (to the free will, that is) or physical cause. For example, something that doesn’t necessarily have a moral basis to it, such as mental illness caused by genetic causes or a chemical imbalance. Then again, biblically speaking, all disease is a result of the fall–man’s withdrawal from God’s protection, as well as demonic influences as well–demonic oppression and demonic “possession.” We can sometimes be innocent victims of these external causes, and victims to other’s internal or external causes in this fallen world.
But most likely, it’s a mix these these external influences and and internal choices that made Adam Lanza take all those lives. To date, we’ve heard he has a personality disorder and Aspergers Syndrome. The later does not seem to be linked to this kind of violence. Clearly we see intentional violence toward his mom and an at least somewhat premeditated attack on the school. So perhaps its is a mix of these two causes. If he’s found to be legally insane, completely unaware of his actions, it would he a lot harder to understand why God allowed this to happen.
Whether we’re more influenced by external factors, or we make a series of internal bad choices, things can go wrong. When they go wrong, we can be frustrated. If we choose to stew on it, or we’re not allowed to healthfully vent it, frustration can turn to anger, and anger to rage. “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” Mat. 12:34 (and sometimes our actions).
I think we need to focus more on how we respond than to ask why it happened. I know that I both despaired and then became angry soon after hearing the event. But is despair or anger, even righteous anger, the right response? How would God have us respond?
This is important stuff: The world is becoming darker and darker and people are going to be forced to make these kind of internal free-willed decisions about how they are going to react. I believe we can do two things: Make the right choices, in our God-given free will and decision-ability (what or who are we living for?) and cut out harmful external influences. At least the ones we know are distracting or keeping us from doing good.
One thing to start with is our entertainment. Are we watching “dark” or “depressing” movies and video games, or inspiring and uplifting entertainment? Are we going to soak in the news everyday, especially politics and let it anger or depress us? Are we going to focus on the truth and redeeming power and principles embodied in God’s word?
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Phil 4:8
For some of us, we need to recognize we’re often trapped in our bad habits and ways of thinking and dealing with frustration and bad outcomes and we need to surrender control to God. We need to surrender our anger or rage, surrender our unforgiveness and surrender our control, and invite him back into the center or our lives. This means not letting our hearts be embittered by people in our lives or by tragic events like this.
And we need to be intentional. Jesus asked the cripple of 38 years: “Do you want to be well?” The point is to know what you want… this is a matter of your heart and a matter of what or who you will actually live for. What do you love, your self, your plans and prideful ways of doing things, or do you want to love, trust and serve the one who is truly Good.
Ultimately, all change and healing is in relationship. We need to have to have real, long lasting and healthy relationships. It needs to be both with God, and with God’s people. That is the way to influence and reinforce lasting change.
God bless the families of Netown, CN. Our prayers go out to you. God is still and always good. Each of these innocent young ones will rise again to eternity. But may he bring people of that town, and our nation together for good things to come out these school shootings. Let it be a wake up call to spiritual things, and not just political or legal things–that’s just more control. Let us treat each other with love, patience and kindness, and rededicate our selves to loving our kids and friends and family in Christ. May God truly bless America, once again.
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