I wrote this post shortly after the horrific Sandy Hook school shootings in Newton, CT in December of 2012. In 2016, there was a trend of shooters targeting police. Now in 2020, we are reminded of how racism is still destroying lives. There are always new perpetrators and new victims. No matter where or how the bloodshed takes place, I believe the solution to evil is the same, so I wanted to re-post this.
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I’ve just spent two hours reading blogs and commentary about the Newtown, CT killings. Like everyone, my heart aches for that once peaceful town. I cannot imagine losing a child in such a way.
I saw on the news this morning that since 1999, there have been seven mass killings at schools. SEVEN incidents. Besides, in this year alone, there have been five non-school mass shootings. It’s almost become commonplace, so much so that I only remembered two (Columbine and VT) of the seven, and one (Gabby Giffords) of the five. The mind can only take in so much horror.
The debates about how to fix the problem are ongoing: stricter gun laws, less violent video games/movies, better screening/help for the mentally ill, armed police officers in the schools, metal detectors at the schools, etc. All of these seem like good ideas. Why weren’t some changes implemented after mass killing #1? Maybe because we didn’t think it could happen again. We couldn’t imagine such evil would happen again.
And here we are, too many episodes later, grieving the loss of innocent children. Little kids who were just learning to read and tie their shoes and ride a bike. We will probably never be able to eliminate all school violence in America, but we ought to be able to do better than we’re doing.
The question that always comes up after such tragedies is How could God allow this to happen?
Although I understand the anguish behind the cry, it’s further saddening to hear this because the question implies a misunderstanding of God’s character. God hates suffering and death more than we do. He grieves as we do over the loss of life. It is never His will that people are harmed.
The problem is that human will often ignores Divine will. That’s the power God gave mankind: the freedom to dismiss Him, to distrust Him, to ignore Him, to mock Him, to disbelieve Him. It’s completely our choice. Total freedom. That’s what true love looks like.
So, we can be mad at God for giving us free will, if we want to. On occasion, I have wondered what He was thinking; we’re too selfish and stupid to be trusted with such a gift. We make poor decisions all the time. But, the other option is that we are puppets, with no mind of our own. God loves us enough to give us the freedom to choose Him, or not.
Freedom is what God allows.
It’s not His fault we choose poorly. He’s always there to guide and encourage and support – we can take it, or leave it. When we choose to dismiss God’s will for our lives, we suffer, because the human heart is imperfect and fearful. Our judgment is poor, and our perspective is limited. That’s the human condition. Without God’s influence, we’re just floundering souls trying to survive.
So, we self-medicate with self-destructive vices and idolize useless things and hide and exaggerate and manipulate and blame each other and defy authority, and we sometimes pick up guns and shoot. And God weeps.
But, He doesn’t change the rules. We’re still free to turn to Him or stay on our destructive course. Every day, we are free to choose.
We don’t yet know the full story of Adam Lanza (the shooter at Sandy Hook.) We know he made a choice for evil, and innocents lost their lives. We know Derek Chauvin chose evil as well when he took George Floyd’s life. From Cain and Able to the Crusades, the Holocaust to 9-11, and all the killings since, evil choices were made. God has watched His children destroy each other since the beginning of time.
And He waits with open arms for all the grieving to turn to Him for comfort and peace and justice. He is especially close to the bleeding, the dying, and the brokenhearted. God embraces every deceased victim with perfect, unbridled love. He is the only one who can heal the human soul and set things right.
I pray, as a country, we will implement changes that will help prevent further shootings and continued hatred. Legally, there is more we can do. The more permanent solution, however, is a matter of the heart. What choices are we making, every day – as teenagers, parents, neighbors, employees, managers, community leaders – that are hurting others, marginalizing them.
Killers do not grow up in a vacuum.
In our troubled society, we need God’s guidance more than ever. I pray we humble ourselves and seek it.
And here’s the final word for the struggling and the grieving: in the end, justice will be done. Ultimately, God wins, and we will all be held to account for our actions. The truth will be upheld and full understanding will come. Peace and love will reign.
No amount of evil can change that.
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Karen Lange says
Yes, we do need His guidance more than ever. It is certainly a time to seek Him fervently. Praying for those grieving through this. Praying for us all…
Jen Forbes says
Wonderful post Mare. HE surely is the only one who can heal the human soul. I am living proof of His healing love.
I couldn't agree more.
Susan Flett Swiderski says
Thank you for this post, Mare. Without faith, I do not know how anyone could get through such a loss. My heart continues to bleed for those poor parents. It's unfathomable.
Frances Stiles says
It's all so very sad, Mare. All we can do is stick together and love each other.
Kenya G. Johnson says
I've just learned more, and turned off the Today Show. Like you I'd was surprised by the number of mass shootings – only remembering Columbine, Virginia Tech and Ft. Hood. I can't imagine a day that I would forget this one. My pastor said yesterday that God's promise was to provide. He never promised to prevent. Like you I hope we will as a country do something to prevent this from ever happening again.
Annmarie Pipa says
prayers and more prayers…
so unbelievably tragic.
my comp died on friday and this time my sil can't revive it. motherboard went. dang.
loved your comments to me. i will write on my dumb/smartphone to answer you more. currently at pub library comp. oh well.
happy holidays if i can't reach you later and closer to Christmas!!! k?
Jo-Anne Meadows says
When things like this happen it does test our faith and we wonder why…..
but it in times like this that our faith needs to be strongest
Michael Ann says
This was so well-stated, Mare. You truly have a gift.
Tamera Brose says
well said! my non Christian friends always reel against God when tragedy happens and I never know quite what to say. It's hard to explain free will sometimes, but you did it beautifully.
Your words are beautiful and speak an incredible amount of truth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!
Robyn Welling says
Lovely – people do make poor choices (to say the least) all the time. I hope as a global community we can somehow find a way to be better. We don't need to be perfect, but we need to make a lot of changes.
Bernadette Veenstra says
This is a fantastic post. It was realistic without being harsh or blaming anyone. I like the free will thing. Very well said. Sometimes our will overrules God's. Hmmm…
Thanks for sharing the link. I am glad I looked it up.=)
Mare, this is so well written and so simple an explanation…I would like to share this on my blog.
Came over to read from Brenda's blog. Thoughtful words.
I'm mostly known as 'MA' says
Those words say it all…no more lives torn apart…that time will heal all hearts…this is my grown-up Christmas list, Good choice !
Jeanette Levellie says
This was so well-said, I'm sharing it on my FB page, Mare. Thank you! Many people believe that if something happens, God willed it, but I agree with you that He gave us free will, and we mess up.
That's why we need Jesus.
I come here from Jeanette's FB page. I agree with you. It is a shame that our nation had to wait until 20 children, 6 teachers, and 2 adults had to die before we realize the need for finding a different way to monitor certain aspects of our social mores.
The Proverbs 31 Sanctuary says
Found you via upward not inward, I have not really anything to say about the post, just God be with us all. I just wanted to say hello. Tara.
That corgi :) says
you said it really well Mare. People don't understand this about free will and how it relates to God. They kind of want to define God to who they want him to be, not realizing he is his own entity with "checks and balances" so to speak which included free will.
I have no words to express my feeling of sadness for the children, the families and the teachers. You wrote what I was thinking and could not put into words. Well said!
Amen. Well said. It's so much easier to blame God, then to blame our own sinful selves.
This post was very moving and oh so spot on