As is often the case with horrific tragedies, society, the question arises: “Why would God allow a shooting like this to happen?” “How could God let such evil take place?” “Where was God?” Many articles, news programs and people alike have raised the question in the aftermath of the devastating shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut that left 27 dead, 20 of whom were children between the ages of 5 and 10. A killing spree of children so young has never occurred in modern American history and it has rocked the nation to its core and sent many people searching for answers. And the Bible has them. It is only a matter of understanding that this is all a product of the sinful, fallen world that humanity has allowed to turn more and more evil with each passing generation. And it is a world that will have to end before it can be redeemed and have true peace on Earth.
1) Humanity brought death and destruction to the world
This Earth at present is not the way God intended. When The Lord made everything in the week of creation as described in Genesis 1, and put man in the Garden of Eden, the world was a far different place. God created man and woman to live forever in open communion with Him. It was never intended for our first parents, Adam and Eve to die. In the Garden of Eden, God planted a tree of life that would sustain them and allow them to live forever. He put humanity in a paradise where all of our needs were provided for. There was no threat of attackers or criminals. But in breaking God’s main commandment — eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the one forbidden action in paradise, Adam and Eve lost those privileges for all of humanity. Their transgression allowed Satanic influence, sin and death to enter into the equation. The Bible tells us:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” –Romans 5:12.
So it was humanity’s choice to do evil that forfeited the paradise of the Garden for a corrupted world, where sin is rampant, nature decays and we all eventually die. Where we can now be sick. Where we can now suffer catastrophe. We can also now hurt each other. Whether it is genocide, robbery or assault on women and children, it is human beings choosing to do these things to others out of their free will. And why? Because of our sinful nature. It is our sin that caused the separation from God, the spiritual confusion in the world and the physical decay of every person and this planet. And every person, because of our flesh inherited from the same two parents, are all prone to sin. And as a person continues in sin, with no regard for God or His Word, the heart will grow colder to the last bit of influence God has put in everyone: the conscience. And thus even homicidal sprees such as what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary can be committed. The only thing that can stop and reverse the cycle of death of all thing is belief in Jesus Christ as your Savior.
But in this day and age, the world is rejecting, mocking, cursing and ignoring Jesus Christ and God more than ever. Sin is promoted and Biblical values are seen as outdated bigotry. Thus society, particularly pop culture, promotes the worst of human values and behavior and celebrates them. This was all prophesied in Scripture, as stated in this dire prophecy in 2 Timothy:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. – 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
A sign that the end times are approaching is when society embodies the above listed traits. And this is exactly what the culture of today’s world revels in and celebrates: utter rebellion and no respect for Godly authority. Instead of encouraging reading of the Bible, much of the world seeks to debunk rewrite it. Through pop culture, we bombard children with violent images and sexual immorality. Thousands of babies are murdered in the womb via abortion. Greed and the pursuit of money dominates the minds and aspirations of the successful. Rather than seek God, this world is merely building up more of The Lord’s judgment and wrath against it. We are practically begging for God’s judgment upon us. Do not be deceived.
2) Satan is at work against us
And the devil, taking [Jesus] up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” – Luke 4:5-7.
This test of Jesus, right before He started His earthly ministry, gives some insight into how much power Satan has. Contrary to popular belief, the Devil is not in Hell among the dead. Satan is on Earth, which is presently under his authority. The sin of the Garden forfeited the rulership of the Earth from humanity to the Devil and his minions. God is permitting Satan this time to set up his own system of sinful temptation right alongside God’s true way of salvation, which is the Biblical Gospel. It is a war taking place and humans are the prize. And every person will choose in their lifetime which side they are on. In the meantime, the Devil has limited power to wreak havoc.
The clearest illustration of the Devil damaging someone’s life in a matter similar to the Newtown shooting is in the book of Job. Satan was permitted by God to afflict the righteous Job in any way short of killing him, and the Devil did not hesitate to bring tragedy into Job’s life:
“While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” – The Book of Job Chapter 1.
Satan a natural disaster in the form of something similar to a tornado (or maybe could have been an actual tornado) that destroyed the home of Job’s son and killed his children. Even from thousands of years ago, the Devil did not hesitate to inflict the worst kind of suffering on humanity.
And Job’s response to this news is telling:
“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Instead of making accusations out of anger at God, Job worshiped him.
In these kinds of tragedies instead of blaming The Lord, many people forget to look to Satan and his system of sinful temptation that has caused so much of the suffering in this world. In fact, Satan’s name rarely even comes up when disasters occur and spiritual implications and reasons are discussed. But the Bible teaches that Satan can harm humanity and will as soon as he is given the opportunity.
1 Peter says: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
Since the days of the Apostles, the Devil has been sought to devour Christians and ruin our witness. And the counter for this is to hold on and stand on faith in order to resist him. Do not let Satan’s devices turn your anger or frustration towards God. Instead stay faithful to The Lord and He will restore us. The very next verse in 1 Peter 5 states: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
This world is not for Christians. The Bible says that all believers are just “pilgrims” passing through on their way to the true Kingdom of God: the eternal Kingdom of Jesus Christ. That is where true happiness lies. Putting stock in this cursed world will only lead to disappointment because it is not going to last. Just before his crucifixion, Jesus said to Pontius Pilate:
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. – John 18:36.
This present world is going to end with judgment. God is not going to tolerate humanity’s sin and evil forever. The time of judgment, known as the Day of The Lord, will start the final years of this world before the Second Coming of Christ. Until that time, sin and evil will still reign because Satan is still exercising his short-lived authority.
3) We Can And Will Be Tested By Hardships In This Life
Yes, we can be tested with tragedy. Now that our repeated sin has brought us under judgment of God and condemned, we can also be tried by the fire of suffering and loss, even if we are Christian believers. In fact, the Bible guarantees suffering and trials as a believer. It is a part of the development and maturity of our faith:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. – 2 Peter 4:12-13.
The Christian life is about not putting all of our stock in this present cursed world. It is about looking to the Heavenly realm and thinking about things from the eternal perspective. And the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ, should be something to rejoice over all the time, even in a tragedy. So Christians can have their faith tested because in the midst of struggle, it becomes so clear how much we need and must rely on The Lord God just to make it through. And in that we cry out to Him in prayer and He is pleased. Tragedies like the Newtown shooting are vivid reminders of how fragile and brief human life truly is. And at those times we need to acknowledge God the most and not be angry or curse Him. So how do we do at this test? Some do well , some do not. And unbelievers are being tested to. These types of events will bring many who never wanted to acknowledge God to their knees. But do they stay there? Do people feel a change in their hearts to start worshiping God? This can even be seen in the reaction to this event.
“Thank God For Saving 680 Children”
You will find few articles with that headline in all of the massive coverage of this tragedy but God’s mercy in this situation should not be forgotten. The shooter came armed with enough ammunition to shoot every student in the building and rigged his gun to allow for maximum killing. The carnage could have been much, much worse and the residents of the Newtown area are well aware of this and have responded to this tragedy by pouring into churches, holding prayer vigils and seeking God’s wisdom over their own. This is an attitude that seeks to acknowledge God for all the good things that do happen in this world that is overrun with sin and evil:
“By 6 p.m., hundreds of townspeople, including parents like Lilia and Vinny Alvarez and David Connors, sought comfort and flocked to St. Rose of Lima Church where a Catholic Mass was being offered and where 26 candles — one for each victim — brightly lit the altar.
The Alvarezes walked solemnly inside. They were there to thank God that their Cynthia, an 8-year-old Sandy Hook third-grader, was safe, although traumatized after hearing gunshots.” (source)
This is just one example of the many parents and residents in the Sandy Hook area who have responded to this tragedy with thanks and praise to God their children are alive. And even for the families of victims, there has been a response to look to God for comfort, answers and assurance during this time. This is the type of faith God desires and these people will be blessed for it: “ But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6).
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. – Jesus Christ, John 3:17.
The pain and sheer agony of losing a young child is difficult to fathom. And like Job, there may never be a clear answer given in this life for some of the tragedies that we endure. But at least those parents can take solace in the fact that their children are indeed in Heaven. And that is the ultimate solution: having eternal life with God. This world is going to be judged by there is an eternal kingdom, that will be a righteous, kind and loving world, coming afterwards. And this is the world where tragedies and hurt will never happen again:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write : for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. — Revelation 21:1-7.
So where is God in the midst of this tragedy? He is showing His mercy by 680 children being spared, He is counting up the judgment of the world for its massive amount of sin and rebellion against His law and He is awaiting His set time to come and avenge the sins of unbelievers and establish His eternal Kingdom. And this short period of history in the interim is given so that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ have time to repent of their sins, be forgiven and receive eternal life. The Bible says: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9.
God is waiting for people to turn to Him and away from the sinful world. The change to reduce evil in society starts in the heart. And all it takes is faith in Jesus Christ and belief in the Gospel, to start making this corrupted world, a little better place to live.