As a parent of elementary school aged children, the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has really touched a nerve. This is every parents’ worst nightmare. You assume that when you send your children to school that they are safe. No one expects that an armed individual would end the life of so many children and teachers. Our prayers must be with the families of the victims and the family of the one responsible. This is truly a heartbreaking situation.
One of the first questions that is asked is: Why did this happen? That is a natural and normal question. We should be asking about the reasons behind this tragedy. Why did this young man kill his own mother and so many innocent children?
For many people, the why question goes beyond the reasons for the individual and into questions about God’s involvement or lack thereof. Why would God allow this to happen? For some this is the normal question of people who are hurting and for others this is the ‘proof’ they have been looking for that there is no God or at least no good God.
I would say for those who are hurting, this is a natural question to ask. But at the same time, we should think through what we would expect God to do. Assume for a moment that there is a God and that he should have done something. What should have God done? Should God have taken control of Adam Lanza’s mind and forced him not to act in such a way? If so, is that something that God should have done just in this case or on a daily basis? Do we want to live in a world where God controls our minds and forces us to act in a certain way? Do we want a world where we don’t have the choice to love our children or the choice to help a person in need? So if we don’t want God to control our minds and actions, what would we want? God could have sent down a lightning bolt and killed Adam Lanza before he committed one murder. But is that really what we want as well? Do we want a world where God is sending bolts from heaven, killing those who are making evil decisions? And where would the cut off be? What level of crime would deserve a divine execution? When we try and be specific, we find the natural questions of why God let this happen are difficult to answer.
I would suggest that instead of dwelling on why God let this happen, that we should be looking at how God is working right now. I do not want people to think that I am suggesting that God is powerless to intervene. However, most often God’s actions are responses to our freewill and not an override of that will. Where is God working in this situation? What good will come from this? I don’t have the answers to these questions as only time will tell. But I am confident that God is present in this situation.