This is one of those moments in which all of us need to be mindful of our words. Our first priority must be to pray for God’s peace and comfort for the families who suffered unimaginable loss last week in Newtown, Connecticut as 26 people, including 20 children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But in the right tone and with the right heart, I believe there are a few things that deserve comment. First is the reality of evil. We saw it on December 14th and unfortunately we have been witnessing it with increasing frequency for some time. Every time a tragedy like this occurs the question arises, “How can we stop it?” The truth is that we can’t. Evil exists and people determined to commit it will find a way to carry it out. Second is the question of how God could allow this to happen? It is a completely reasonable question given the circumstance, but thankfully Scripture answers it. Evil breaks the heart of God and though He is sovereign over it, He is never its cause. Although we will never fully understand why things like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School happened, we can trust that God is good and we can look to Him for comfort in these times. I believe that deep down people have this sense. Consider where many have run in the days following. If only we wouldn’t wait until after tragedy strikes to look to God in the first place, and if only our looking to Him would last? But God is always there, always faithful and ready to heal the brokenhearted. It is often in these darkest moments in which He saves and deepens our trust in Him.
As our leaders consider the way forward after this tragedy, it’s only arrogance that will continue to seek human answers to spiritual problems. But so far, it appears that human answers are all we seek, beginning with President Obama alluding to the need for stricter gun control laws in his initial statement on the shooting and the White House’ statements since, to other politicians’ calls for a “national conversation” on how tragedies such as this might be avoided to the media’s intense coverage of it all. It’s fine to have a “conversation” around anything that would help avoid what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but the question is where does it all end; stricter gun laws only? It seems that way thus far. We need and in fact have responsible gun laws, but guns themselves aren’t the problem. People are the problem. When’s the last time you saw a gun pull its own trigger? I say this as someone who doesn’t even own a gun. Whatever happened to personal responsibility and accountability? No gun law will ever solve the evil intentions of people. Evil has always existed and until the Lord vanquishes it, it always will. The reality is that our biggest issues are heart issues. It’s Jesus Christ that our nation needs. The battles we face are spiritual ones and unfortunately, having removed God from the public discourse; it appears our nation has already laid down its arms.
Can we continue to believe consequences won’t follow our removing God from every aspect of society, including our schools? Should we really expect blessing when we continue to forgo His will in public policy? I don’t think so. I’m glad that our President and other state and local politicians have participated in memorial services following the shooting. We should always seek God first in these moments. But with all due respect, I’m tired of seeing politicians pay lip service to matters of faith after tragedy, yet spend the rest of their time advocating policies that stand contrary to the Word of God. Instead of using this tragedy to move forward a political agenda, what if they got on their knees and asked God’s forgiveness for ignoring His will in the first place. What if in this “national conversation” God was allowed to speak? Can you even imagine what He might say? In his comments at the memorial service in Newtown, President Obama said we were failing our children. I agree with him; we are failing them, but our greatest failure is not the lack of stricter gun laws, better screening for mental health or anything else. Our greatest failure is that more and more we’ve given our children a nation that denies its Creator and devalues the impact of faith on our society. How long and how many times will we live the consequences of our increasing alienation from God before we realize where we’ve gone wrong? How long until we will see Him as the only answer to our problems? Might this be the event that brings not only our nation, but each of us individually to the end of ourselves, creating in us the desire to restore a right relationship with our Lord? We can only pray that it is.