Courtesy U.S. news

The nation is stunned and saddened by the death of 28 people last Friday in a grade school in Connecticut.  As details emerge we hear stories of tragedy and wonder what could have possessed a young man to brutally murder 28 people who have never done anything to him—one of them his mother?

We hear stories of heroism as school officials did all they could do to warn and protect innocent children once the shooting started.  And we hear wonderful stories of forgiveness as a Christian father who lost his daughter asks people to forgive the shooter because his dead daughter would have—that God gave her a wonderful spirit of forgiveness before her tragic death.

We see non-believers struggling to understand a tragedy like this—and Christians struggling with what to say.  How do we compassionately share the truth—that man has chosen to align with evil, rejecting God in the Garden of Eden, placing the entire world under a curse?  How do we share the truth at a time when so many are grieving the loss of their children, parents and friends?

However none of us as Christians should be shocked by what happened—in fact I think we need to brace ourselves and expect a lot more of the same.  Our once great nation who asked for God’s blessings and protection, has abandoned Him and His ways, choosing a path of secularism.  We have escorted God out of our government, public institutions and the school system—and then we hear the audacious questions like “How could God allow something like this to happen?”

I am hearing things like “If we didn’t end prayer in public schools, something like this would never have happened”—but I think that is a shallow, misinformed opinion.  Prayer alone does not always stop evil—Satan is powerful and has great influence in this world.  Prayer alone cannot stop every tragedy.  However, prayer—intimate conversation with God—can help us understand and cope with tragedies like this.  And herein lies the growing sadnessCoalition to Stop Gun Violence over a tragedy like this—we will once again turn to our earthly understanding to try to solve a spiritual problem.

We will see calls for greater gun control and more intrusion on the privacy of citizens to hopefully prevent this from ever happening again.  We will see a call for greater intrusion into the rights and responsibilities of parents under the guise of the government providing help for families.  These calls will be made to reign in and stop evil—a job only God can accomplish.  But we are simply too arrogant and prideful as a people to turn to God and say “We just can’t handle this God!”

As Christians, how should we handle discussions about such a tragic event?  First, I think we come off our high horses and just mourn with and comfort those who have experienced an unbelievable loss.  Even with those who are not directly touched by this tragedy, just seeking to understand, we let them know we share in their grief.  But when the opportunity presents itself, we share the tragic story that bore all these other tragedies—the story of how man was created for eternal fellowship with God in a world without death or sin—but how man rejected God’s love.

We share the story of how God loved us so much that He took the form of human flesh to die for our sins, paying the price for our disobedience.  We tell them that God is in the process of redeeming humanity for eternity, but how he is encumbered by the gift of free will that he gave us.  And we share with them that Jesus is returning soon to destroy all evil and save those who place their faith and trust in Him as the Son of the Living God.  We invite them to pray, confess their sins and ask for God’s forgiveness.  And if they do so, we offer to walk with them on this challenging journey toward holiness, helping them become faithful disciples of Jesus.

When a tragedy like this happens, the world needs Christians to explain why God allows this to occur, and the ultimate solution and plans of a holy God.  But sadly, most Christians are ill-prepared to address such a tragedy in a way that points the helpless and the lost to God.  And that might be the saddest thing of all.  As tragic as the loss of human life was last Friday, the fact that we cannot seem to point survivors and others to the eternal hope of Jesus Christ, might be the greatest tragedy of all.  In the midst of this horrible loss of life, there is an opportunity to share the gospel with the world around us.  But once again we seem ill-prepared because of our own drifting away from God and His Word.

In the coming days people we each know will be looking for answers—are we prepared to point them to God and explain the story of man’s fall and God’s plan of redemption?  Or will we sit back helplessly and allow Satan to reap a greater harvest of lost souls?