It is very hard to process a tragedy like the one that took place in Newton, Connecticut this past Friday. Murder of even one person is appalling. Mass murder is exceedingly horrific. The mass murder of children is inconceivable. We must continue to be in prayer for the families affected by this tragedy, especially this week, as so many funerals are conducted and as the town reels in emotional trauma. Pray specifically that the gospel of Christ would be lifted up and that the grace of Christ would bring ultimate peace to troubled hearts.
In the aftermath of this event, we have seen differing factions passionately take up their positions on mental health, gun control, and media violence. Some piece of inadequate legislation will undoubtedly follow. While we may need to evaluate ourselves and make some hard decisions in these areas, the real issues behind such wicked acts
of violence will remain largely unaddressed. What are the real issues? The overwhelming hopelessness that undoubtedly plagued this young killer. The deliberate devaluation of human life in our society. The veneration of violence in our cultural psyche. And most importantly, the abandonment of any sort of divine foundation for our moral code.
These issues will remain largely unaddressed because providing useful answers to such questions requires us to acknowledge that what we are facing are ultimately spiritual problems. Spiritual problems require divine answers, and going to God or His Bible to get those answers is taboo in our politically correct and “tolerant” culture. So, barring a national spiritual awakening, all we can anticipate is more infighting, more regulation, and less real change.
Why sound so pessimistic? Because human beings have no inherent ability to overcome our own depravity. We are quite content to put on the veneer of human morality while ignoring the vileness of indwelling sin. We are all sinners by nature and by choice. We are all guilty of offending the infinite glory of almighty God. And we must remember that Christ alone is the cure for human wickedness. When confronted with such senseless acts of violence, we should see them as warnings from God to see our souls as depraved. If you are asking, “Why would a sovereign God allow such a horrible tragedy to take place?” the answer is, “So that we will acknowledge our depravity and run to the one and only Savior.”
That’s how Jesus reframed the question. In Luke 13:1, some people came to Jesus and reported that Pilate had slaughtered a number of Galilean worshipers in the temple. Days earlier, there had been the tragedy of the Tower of Siloam collapsing and killing 18 people (Luke 13:4). If those events had happened today, politicians would be calling for a referendum on the ruling party and people would be picketing for better building codes. But that’s not how Jesus responded to these tragedies. Jesus used Pilate’s murders and the tower incident to remind men of their need for repentance. “He answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2-3)
The fact of the matter is it’s only the grace of God that keeps evil in check at all. There would be things like mass murders and destructive tsunamis every day were it not for the constraining grace of God. The fact that God does not rain down judgment on our nation and cast every unbeliever into hell right now is evidence of His mercy. So when we are confronted with tragedies like this most recent one in Connecticut, let us not question the goodness and sovereignty of God, and let us not settle for man-made remedies for the human condition. Let us instead be reminded that sin is the source of all human misery. Let us instead see our hearts as they really are (depraved!), and run to Christ the Savior who alone can forgive us, transform us, and provide for us a future and a hope. Let us preach the gospel as the only hope for sinful men. That is how God would have us understand the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. I love you all dearly!