Friday 25th April 2014,
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God, where were you today in Newtown, CT?

Benjamin Sledge December 14, 2012 Blog, God, Grief, Suffering 3 Comments

I often find myself wondering, “If God is supposed to be good, then why does he allow such evil happen to the innocent?  Surely he could have stopped it.”

In wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT this morning I found myself asking the same question.

20 children dead.  27 victims total.

Surely this can’t be your master plan can it God???

I imagined the homes of the victims where Christmas trees are proudly displayed and wrapped toys are nestled snuggly beneath it.  I imagine this year Mom and Dad got them that special something that they really wanted.  I imagine the joy they would have opening the present and the shrieks of excitement.  But this Christmas there will be no child’s giddy laughter….only mourning in the homes of the victims who will stare at unopened presents.  A taunting reminder of what tragedy has befallen their family.

And perhaps they will ask the same question of God.

WHERE.  WERE.  YOU?

And I’m hoping they hear a soft whisper that says, “I was there and I care.”

HOW?

In the book of Hebrews God consistently tells us he identifies with suffering.  “I am a husband to the widows.  I am a father to the fatherless.  If you oppress the poor you oppress me.”  Perhaps the most astounding text to me is that it says he “sympathizes in EVERY WAY”.  God’s heart is so closely bound to his people he feels the effects of a broken world on himself.

Moreover I know God is not immune to suffering.  He didn’t sit in heaven ruling the universe but instead put on flesh and blood and came lived among his creations as one of us.  And he didn’t take the form of an Emperor but as a poor carpenter born in a feeding trough, suffered, and was eventually brutally murdered.

I could never worship a God that hasn’t felt the effects of suffering.  That doesn’t know the pain and aguish of betrayal, loss, suffering, and ultimately death.  And yet the cross of Christ screams at me, “I KNOW.  I’VE BEEN THERE.”

Crois / Croix

So why didn’t he stop it?

Ultimately…..I don’t know, but I do know he cares.

But beware.  Beware of people that will say because God is sovereign and all knowing he is in everything because he knows about it.  Therefore he’s in the earthquake that hit Japan, your mom’s cancer, genocide, and they practically make God out as the source of evil while claiming he’s good.  If they KNOW for a fact that God decided to let this shooting happen then doesn’t that technically make them God because they know his mind?  And doesn’t God say repeatedly, “I’m a mystery, who’s ever given me council or known my mind”?

And on the other end of the spectrum, people will say, “Well we’re free willed creatures and therefore God doesn’t want to intervene, and if he had to intervene then he would have to intervene for all evil and suffering and that would be robbing us of choice and freedom and he loves us too much to do that” and they completely dethrone God of being God. 

The truth is, he’s God, I’m not and the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  It’s tough to live in that tension, isn’t it?  Beware of what you hear for the explanations on this shooting, but know that God cares, he understands and has endured suffering.

So remember the example of Christ. God in the flesh doesn’t say, “No forget this world and the evil in it,” he instead enters in and takes our place.  Has the flesh whipped off his back and dies BARBARICALLY and goes, “No, I understand….I understand……I have not abandoned you….I’ve been through it myself….I’ve been there and I took it all so that you could fully live….TRUST ME….please trust me…with your life….when you suffer….when you think I’m not there”.

And so in the wake of this tragedy I’m reminded of the Apostle John.  John the lone, surviving apostle when all the other disciples have been murdered.  John who was tortured, exiled and left alone on an island and writes as a simple prayer at the end of Revelation:

Marantha.

Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Marantha.

 ***For those of you that pray, please do so for the families affected by this tragedy   Let us rally together as a community for their community which is grieving and broken over the loss of innocent life****

 

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About The Author

Communicator, writer, speaker, and a college pastor for Gateway Church in Austin, TX. Veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Most passionate about Jesus, his wife, art, tattoos, and Texas BBQ (in that order). Email: ben@heartsupport.com

  • Tyler Y.

    Well said. One of my professors often said, “God is God and I am not.”
    It is ridiculously difficult to not be able to understand or explain
    what God does or doesn’t do, but He is God. We need to let God work and
    accept it, because He created us. It isn’t our place to understand our
    creator completely.

    My heart breaks for that community. I
    have been crying off and on all day, I just can’t imagine what those
    families are feeling. I know what it is like to lose someone you love
    unexpectedly but there is no way I can understand losing your child to
    something like this at school. My prayers go out in an unprecedented
    fashion. May God and the community be a comfort to the grieving
    families.

  • david

    Beautifully said.To be honest,I don’t really know how to pray for these families over something so tragic.I can’t find the right words to say and I want so badly to pray for the right things to God so that He knows how much I am sorry for what happened.I also know what it’s like to lose someone as close as a mother,but I can’t even imagine the pain and confusion going on in their minds.But my prayers are with them,and I hope that they pray harder than ever in these times.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mufasa117.12894 Jake Moix

    “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

    Good to be reminded that in the midst of the chaos, His presence remains constant. Good words Sledge.

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