Where Was God at Sandy Hook Elementary?
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: