The devastating tragedy of last Friday’s shootings in Newtown, Connecticut is still being felt around the world. The senseless murder of 20 young schoolchildren and 8 adults is impossible to wrap our minds around. Details from the story are still becoming clear, but none of these details help us to understand what happened.
It is at dark times like these when people ask “Where was God?”. If He is all-powerful, loving, and gracious, how could He let something like this happen to innocent people?
These are difficult questions. While I’m not a pastor or a spiritual leader of any kind, I do have a relationship with God. And this relationship has shown me several things in my own life that I would like to share. These are just personal feelings, but I hope they can help.
1. Satan is real and is hard at work. Most people seem to write off Satan and hell as something you may or may not have to deal with after your life is over. I don’t think people truly acknowledge that Satan is real and is moving in this world every day, turning good people into bad people and attacking them in their weakest moments. The Bible even warns us of this, telling us that Satan is a lion looking to devour us at any moment:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
2. People have free will. This is one of the most beautiful things about God’s creation: he gave us free will. He wants us to enter into a loving relationship with Him, but he wants it to be authentic love. And how can you have authentic love if you are forced to love Him? You can’t. And you aren’t forced, because you were given free will to enter that loving relationship. The dark side of that free will, however, means that people are also free to choose to act against God, and those actions can affect a lot of people in a horrible way. Christian author John Eldredge talks about free will as it relates to hell in his book Epic:
“Hell was created not for mankind, but for Satan and his angels…. Hell is not God’s intention for mankind. But remember–he gave us free will. He gave us a choice.” – John Eldredge
3. God was and is still there. I know this may be hard to believe, but God was still very much present at Sandy Hook last Friday. He was there when first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig heroically hid her students in the bathroom and barricaded them in there to protect them from harm, all the while telling them that she loved them. God was there when Victoria Soto, another first grade teacher, hid her students in cabinets and told the gunman that they were in gym. She saved every single one of her student’s lives, but lost her own when the gunman shot her. And God is with the 27 victims right now. They are in a better, safer place than this world could ever be. They are at home with their Father and basking in the glow of His love.
These are a few of my personal thoughts. I’m sure you have several of your own and I’d welcome you to share them in the comments or by reaching out to me on Twitter. I’ll leave you with a video I recently saw of Mike Huckabee speaking about this tragedy. He discusses how we question where God is after we repeatedly ask Him to leave us alone. It is well worth 3 minutes of your time to take a peek:
“Motherf***** b**** coming at you strong, let’s go p****!”
That is my iPod as I work out. Do you listen to a similar “song” as you’re exercising? If you’re a young guy that has spent years lifting with his high school football team and then with other college guys, then you might. I know I have a lot of “lifting” music on my iPod that contains explicit language and vulgar lyrics. I also know it isn’t good for my mind or for my relationship with God. Your eyes and ears are the gateway to your heart, and stuffing those with explicit lyrics certainly can’t help.
But I also don’t want to work out to classical Bach, ya know? There is something in that rap music and rock music that gets me going. It’s aggressive and it gets my blood pumping, fueling me to get the most out of my body. What are we supposed to do?
Luckily, I’ve accumulated some “clean” lifting songs over the years. Now, I don’t claim to listen to these every time I work out, but I’m getting better. They get me pumped up and they also don’t pollute my mind. So here are 5 artists (with 5 songs) you may recognize and that you can use to get pumped up:
Skillet is an American Christian rock band. They’re from Memphis, TN, and have been around since 1996. If you like rock, then you will like these guys. They have a ton of good songs to choose from; they go hard and their lyrics are meaningful. Song: “Hero”.
Mase is an American rapper who burst onto the scene under P. Diddy’s label “Bad Boy Records”. Mase left the rap industry in 1999 to pursue “a calling from God”. This led to him eventually leading an international ministry. He made a comeback in 2004 and he has a lot of great, clean tracks if you are a rap fan. Song: “Breathe Stretch Shake”.
I’m guessing you’ve heard of these guys. Foo Fighters is an American rock band from Seattle, formed by Nirvana’s former drummer after Kurt Cobain’s death. These guys don’t mess around and they will scream at you until you are in a full sweat. Song: “Pretender”.
Another American rock group that you are probably familiar with. I saw Trapt in concert and they play a great show. Everyone probably remembers their single “Headstrong” from 2002, so I’ll go a different direction with my recommendation. But these guys also have a lot to choose from. Song: “Contagious”.
Lecrae is an American Christian rapper and ministry leader. If you haven’t heard of him, check him out. The man knows how to rhyme, and he chooses to use this gift to rap about God instead of drugs, money, cars, sex, and the other stuff that every other rapper covers ad nauseum. Song: “Don’t Waste Your Life”.
Not all of these artists are the best role models and they don’t produce 100% clean music, but they have given me the above songs that I’ve used for several years now. Try them out! And I’d also love to hear your suggestions of what music works for you. I’m always looking for new songs to mix up my routine so leave a comment or tweet me your favorites!