IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
It comes from Erin Drew, who wins a free book for her trouble.
The recent tragedy in Connecticut [a shooting that killed 20 children and 6 adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School] brought up this question from my fiancé, who is not a Christian: “How can there be a God when such horrible events like this happen so frequently? And if there is a God, how can he let such things happen?” Even though I had answers… they all just sounded lame to say out loud after such a horrible event.
Hear my confession.
In the horror of the moment, after learning the news of a tragedy like this or any number of other tragedies I’ve heard about, the question your fiancé asks is the same the question I ask.
But I don’t generally ask it quite so politely.
I might not say it out loud, but I think it with my whole heart:
“God, where in the hell were you?”
Pardon the use of “hell,” but it conveys the sense of intensity I feel.
I hope that’s not the pagan coming out in me.
I think it’s the natural human response to tragedy of this magnitude.
It’s not difficult for me to imagine a shooter walking around the school rooms, and little children hiding in terror behind chairs that can’t stop a bullet.
We know that if we had the power of God – the power to stop a bullet – no child would die.
I don’t understand why God lets these things happen.
When I back away from the trauma of the moment, and give myself time to think about what happened there – and what continues to happen in our world, I come to the conclusion that we’re asking the wrong question.
For one thing, the question we’re asking about God is one we can’t answer. So we might as well move on to the next question.
Actually, I think it’s a question we should be asking ourselves before we ask any question about God.
Here’s the question:
How can we let such horrible things like this happen so frequently?
God is here.
Jesus said so:
“I and the Father are one in heart and mind….I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you” (John 10:30; 14:20, The Message).
To some degree at least, we are God at work in the world.
Next time a shooter goes crazy, maybe we should ask ourselves a different question:
“Where in the hell were we?”
- Why don’t we make mental healthcare freely available to everyone?
- Why can’t we figure out the math: more guns plus more bullets equals more blood?
- Why do we treat the Second Amendment like it’s the Second Commandment and use it as a basis for arguing that anyone and everyone should have a right to assault rifles designed for the battlefield?
The Second Amendment, with its main focus on the need to maintain a militia back when we were building our first army, is about as relevant to our culture as the horse and buggy is to Japan’s Bullet Train, pun intended:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
When it comes right down to it, we don’t know why God doesn’t step into human history and do something.
But doggone it, here we stand smack dab in the middle of human history and we’re not doing anything either.
I think we all know the main reason we haven’t been able to get anything done:
Guns are Big Business.
Big Business buys political favors – I think of them as bribes. They trump even overwhelming public opinion.
Jesus had something to say about that, too:
“You can’t worship God and Money both,” (Matthew 6:24, The Message).
Maybe that’s the answer to the question, “Where in the hell were we?”
Nowhere in the vicinity.
We were somewhere making money or spending money.
We could see the money really well.
But we couldn’t have seen the people with a scope.
PS. I just wrote both of my Republican senators asking them to support increased gun control – talk about a long shot. And yes, I do own a gun. It’s about a 100-year-old, single-shot, 12-guage shotgun that my dad used to hunt with in the hills of West Virginia, where he grew up.