I think that it is only natural to ask God “why” when something like the Connecticut shooting happens. Most Christians would admit to questioning why God would allow such pain and suffering to occur. A mistake that people make, however, is saying that God is somehow behind what happened. That He is somehow to blame for Friday’s events or is punishing a nation gone astray. I am so sad when I see people whose reaction is to portray God as anything other than our loving Father, who is just as saddened by such tragedies as His children are. I’d like to take a moment to examine some of the reactions I’ve seen this weekend.
Within minutes of the story breaking, I saw the following posts appear on my timeline. You’ve probably seen the first one. It’s pretty popular. The second, I’m sure was a grief filled status update, but it’s worth discussing.
This disturbs me as a teacher because I see every day that God is most certainly allowed in schools. Morrilton High School begins every day with the Pledge of Allegiance (“under God” included) followed by a moment of silence which many students spend in prayer. My students pray before sporting events, before tests, before meals. I pray silently for wisdom, for patience, for my students’ safety. These students are scrambling to collect food for the local food pantry, winter hats and gloves for the poor, toys for needy children. God is too there! Admittedly, he is not evident in every teenage face I meet, but He is there, and He is visible, and He is welcome. And if something terrible happened at MHS, He would still be there as we showed His love to each other and prayed for healing.
So I’m going to expand on this point even more. I believe God was there at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. He was in the hearts of those sweet children as they trusted in the adults they love. He was in those school employees as they scrambled to protect their students, some of them paying the ultimate price. He was evident in the police and paramedics who were encountering, no doubt, the hardest work day of their careers by going into that building. He was in the compassion of community members as they wept for their children, in the sympathy of the churches as they opened their doors for prayer, in the capable hands of the doctors who treated the wounded. God IS allowed in schools, even in times of unforseen suffering.
I feel like I should also include that if you’ve read the New Testament, you will see that our God is not a God who runs around smiting children for a nation’s troubles. It is wrong to expect God’s protection for those who are “good” and assume others are deserving of God’s punishment because they are “bad.” That’s not how God works; it’s how Santa and Superman work, but not God. The notion that those children died Friday because of political decisions strikes me as preposterous. And this specific misguided poster even went on to suggest that this experience was manipulation on God’s part to make people want to love Him. How horrible would it be if God brow-beat us into following Him? Thank goodness that is not how He works.
You see, it is absolutely ridiculous to assume that Friday’s events were the result of an absence of God because God is allowed anywhere His people are. As his children, making His love evident is our job. Policies that don’t allow for prayer in schools are not the issue here because laws cannot stop the love of God from being shown through our actions. And I’ve said this before, too. If you want God in schools, instead of griping about the government, send Him to that school in the heart and actions of your child. It’s kind of your responsibility as a Christian parent. If you want the goodness of God in the world, be an example to those who don’t know His goodness, so they might see it through you. Do not say things which make Him appear vengeful by confusing the role He plays when people are hurting. There is no situation He can’t heal.
No, God doesn’t harm us when we disappoint Him, and praying to Him isn’t a guarantee to prevent every tragedy. Sadness of all varieties will always be part of our lives as humans. What God does do is grieve with us. He feels our pain and heals us. Through His promises, we have faith that, though it might not feel like it right now, things will be okay again if we trust Him. And THAT is the role my God played and is playing in this event.
A little while ago, I sang Christmas hymns with my church family with a very heavy heart for people who don’t have their children this Christmas. A few lyrics stood out to me as especially appropriate right now:
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
This Christmas and always, please know that we are never separated from our God. He was in Connecticut, and He is in our schools. He is wherever we take Him.