Today has been a difficult day for me for two reasons. This morning I learned of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. Last night was the premiere of the new Batman movie. The first showing was at midnight. At about 12:30 AM a 24 year old, young man walked into a crowded movie theater in Aurora and began shooting people. When he was done there were 12 dead and over 50 wounded. This event is beyond senseless; it is demonic.
This afternoon I met with a friend and his wife for coffee. My friend has liver cancer and has 6-8 months to live. I have not seen him for a couple of months. The man I met today was a shell of the man I have come to know and love. My heart breaks for him and his wife.
How do we respond when things go so very wrong? Many people want to blame God. They claim that, if God is loving, He would not allow things like this to happen. Many of these same people want nothing to do with God when all is well. God becomes their scapegoat in a time of crisis.
The real culprit in this mess is Satan. Since sin was introduced into this world, Satan has been causing havoc. Satan knows that he cannot attack God directly, but he can cause God grief by attacking people. The Bible tells us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. He entices people with the promise of pleasure and, when they take the bait, he messes up their lives. Jesus made it clear that Satan’s goal is to destroy, while Jesus came to give us life. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)
So how do we respond when things go wrong? I don’t have the “right answer” but here are a few thoughts.
Avoid trying to place blame. There is something within our nature that wants to hold someone accountable for everything bad that happens.
Recognize that we live in a fallen world that is in rebellion against God. Sin has twisted everything. The forces of evil are actively at work sowing the seeds of destruction and death.
Hold onto the character of God. God is holy, just, righteous, loving, gracious and merciful; to name just a few of His qualities. These do not change because something bad has happened. God is still actively involved in our world, and even though we often can’t understand what is going on, we can trust God.
Trust Jesus to give you the spiritual resources that you need to face the situation. We cannot expect to have all the answers, but we can lean on the grace and power of Christ. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)
Trust Jesus to bring something good out of the situation. It is very hard for us to see any good coming out of a person dying of cancer or a shooting rampage in a crowded theater. Yet, God has promised that His hands are not tied. He can and will redeem even the worse situation for our good and His glory. He doesn’t make the situation good; He creates good out of the circumstances. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Be honest about your fear, anger and anxiety. Take your genuine emotions and bring them to Christ. Don’t deny what you feel, but don’t let negative feelings dominate you and drag you down. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)
God has never promised to answer the question “why.” What God has promised is His abiding presence. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)