Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Don't Have an Answer

Every generation of Americans has been marked by specific events. For my parents, the landing on the moon, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Kennedy assassination were all fragments of history they could point to as "I remember where I was when..." moments. For the generation prior, they remember things like Pearl Harbor and VJ day.

My generation's moments are much different, and the case could be made that no American generation has dealt with as many domestic tragedies as mine. I remember where I was when I heard that Timothy McVeigh had decided to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City, or when two lunatics decided to shoot up a school in Littleton, CO, or one gunman opened fire on Virginia Tech, or when terrorists declared that America wasn't that far away from the Middle East and definitely wasn't safe on September 11, 2001.

Now we are faced with another tragedy. We have another story running non-stop on every news network. Another American decided to remind us how unsafe we actually are. I will always remember where I sat when I read on twitter that some lunatic walked into an elementary school in Connecticut and shot 20 beautiful little children to death along with six teachers and his own mother. I was sitting in a coffee shop with one of my best friends, Adam, in Denver, Colorado wasting time. I read out loud to him the tragic news and then continued to read, pray, and search scripture for comfort. I read Isaiah 40, a popular passage around this time of year, and fought back tears.

"Comfort my people" the passage starts. God is telling Isaiah to comfort His children because they will be delivered. Their sins will be pardoned, their violence will cease, and their redeemer is on His way. The covenant God made with Israel will be accomplished. God has one plan through Israel to bless the world, and He will uphold His end of the bargain.

Advent, the season Christians for thousands of years have observed, is about that yearning we are all feeling right now. The yearning that something is wrong with this world and we just want it to stop. We want suffering and tears to end. We don't want any more mothers to buy tiny caskets. All religions recognize the flaw in the human condition. We all recognize the need for redemption. Two thousand years ago, the Creator did something about it. A better way was revealed.

Followers of this better way have a responsibility to do something about evil. We have a charge, found in 2 Corinthians, to be the ministers of reconciliation. That means we need to find a way to keep these shootings from happening again and again. There's some reason they keep happening in this country more than any other. Our schools, movie theaters, and public places have become shooting galleries for young men wanting to "go out with a bang" more than any other civilized country. In the past 30 years, there have been 61 such shootings--61! No other developed nation has even half of that number. There is something desperately wrong with a culture that breeds this type of killer.

Is gun control the answer? Is the abolition of the second amendment the answer? Should the government look at gun-violence as a public health concern? I don't know. I don't have an answer. I do know I shouldn't have to pray for a parent who has to explain to her six-year-old why his classmates had their faces shot off in front of him at school on Friday.

Many are asking where was God in all of this? The answer is simple: He was there. He was in those classrooms and hallways while a tragedy took place. Maybe He allows tragedy to happen because this is the world we have made for ourselves and He loves us enough to give us what we want. That last sentence may seem horrifying and grating to many, but it's the only answer I can stomach. I know God loves us, and of that I am more certain than I am of my next breath. I know God hates to see children murdered. Why didn't God keep this particular madman from doing what he did? I don't really know. My best answers seem trite and even anathematic at times. There's a good chance that, on this side of Glory, I'll never be able to adequately explain Sandy Hook to anyone from a theological perspective.

I do think it is time for America to take a serious look at itself. We need to do some soul-searching to figure out what can be done to limit these types of tragedies, because they seem to be a uniquely American occurrence. I also think we need, more than ever, to be a people marked by the love, acceptance, and compassion of Jesus as we try to demonstrate a better way to live. The Kingdom has come, the covenant has reached its dynamic climax, and we are now the hands and feet of the Incarnate Word on Earth, seeking to bring redemption to a broken world.

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About Drew

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.