Sunday, July 22, 2012

Where Was God During the Dark Knight Massacre?

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I want to be a writer because I sincerely believe that words have the power to change lives, but as I’ve had time to reflect over the weekend, I can’t imagine that even the most eloquent of statements would make me, or anyone else, feel any better. 

I was born in Aurora Hospital and raised down the road. I didn’t know anyone who was shot or terrorized the night of The Dark Knight Massacre, but it feels like the Columbine shootings all over again. As a community we mourned for years over the early deaths of those high school students. Just as we all were then, I’m angry, confused, and heartbroken by James Holmes’ murderous rampage.  

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stop thinking about how scary it would have been to be trapped in a movie theater; leaving either wounded, dead, grateful to be alive or wondering why I was spared and others weren’t.

Would I have tried to run? Would I have tried to hide? Would I have tried to save someone else? I think these are the kinds of questions we all ask ourselves when tragedy strikes. 

After the initial shock wears off, we start asking the “why” questions. Why did this happen? Why would someone murder innocent people, especially children? 

Then, as I know I did after the Columbine tragedy, with a little more time to process the suffering of the victims and all associated, many of us as “how.” How could anyone do this? Mental illness, maybe? I’m not sure, though, that there is a good reason or answer to the how or why questions. 

However, there is one question with which we have to contend when faced with tragedy, perhaps the biggest question of all:

How could God let this happen? 

I’m going to say it first, loud and clear, that I am a follower of Christ and I believe that above all, God is a loving being as well as an all powerful. I wholeheartedly believe that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made and that He cherishes each of us. I think He delights in our happiness and that He created us for a relationship with Him because He is the source of all joy, peace, and love. But because of the intense love God feels for us, I think, like any loving parent does, He hurts when we hurt, He suffers when we suffer. 

“But, wait,” I hear you interrupt, “If He loves us and He is supposedly all powerful, why doesn’t He stop us, and even Himself, from suffering?”

The answer is this: God isn’t playing a big game of The Sims, He has given us the power to choose how to live our lives. Because He created us for a relationship with Him, He knew that because the word “relationship” itself implies a two way street, He had no choice but to let us have that option—to love Him or not, to live our lives the way we deem right. For, love is not love without both parties making the choice and having the ability to choose that love. 

Therefore, God has to allow us not to love Him, not to live in peace with Him, and as a human race, I believe we’ve been free to make that choice ever since a young man and woman chose to take a bite of a forbidden fruit in a beautiful garden many years ago. As much as it pains God, and us, I think that He HAS to allow suffering and HAS to allow us to make terrible decisions because if He didn’t, the choice of how to live our lives wouldn’t be ours. Furthermore, if He prevented us from suffering or sinning, from a Biblical perspective, He would negate the purpose of our existence.

That said, I also believe that God sovereign and is fully just; meaning He makes all things right in the big picture. I have to believe that whatever happens in our lives, in the end, God makes all things good—whether in this life or the next. While the relationship with Him is of the upmost importance, in the end those who deserve their just reward will receive it and those who deserve their just punishment will receive it as well. I have to believe that regardless of the suffering and evil we experience in the world, God has a plan to honor our choices, but also to heal our wounds and bring justice to both those who suffer and cause suffering.  

I would argue that God was fully present on Friday night in Aurora, Colorado. While He may have known it was coming, I can sense that He ached over the state of James Holmes’ heart and mind, I feel that He felt the pain of the victims, and I would be willing to bet, however it would be noncorporeally possible, that He shed tears over the loss of life and injustice of the whole night. 

In a way, to me at least, knowing that the God who created the sun and the stars is mourning with us and through us makes our suffering seem significant; knowing that He cares and values the fragility of our hearts. In my despair, however, I am comforted to know that in the end LOVE wins.

Nicole Jeannette


Nicole Louise said...

This is beautiful... I love your idea on the two way street on a relationship!

Olivia said...

beautifully written! thanks for your sweet comment on my blog