Thoughts on Sandy Hook Elementary shooting (How can God allow this?)

My older daughter, Emma, had watched some of the coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting became frustrated. She was not frustrated with guns, or mental health, or the breakdown of our society. No, she went right to the source. She was frustrated with God.
“If this is the way it is, why even create the world?” She asked. “Why create a world and let this kind of thing happen?”
She is 12 and she is contemplating the meaning of the world, how God could allow such horrible tragedies, and the goodness of God.
Recent history has produced a new echo of the age-old question about God’s goodness. Where was God during the holocaust? Where was He during the genocides in Africa? Where was God during 9/11, the Indonesian and Japanese tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, or Haiti’s earthquake? If God is so good, why does He allow both man-made and natural horrors?
As if the questions from the world were not enough, the Bible itself is full of people who question the goodness of God. In fact, the Bible asks far more difficult questions about God than most who do not believe in God’s goodness.
Some question the goodness of God’s faithful word to His people. In Psalm 89:39, the Psalmist accuses God of being a covenant breaker, “You have repudiated the covenant with Your servant; You have completely dishonored his crown.” Essentially, He is accusing God of being unfaithful to what He said He would do. Commentator Michael Wilcock says the Psalmist is saying, “You who made all these promises, You who stressed how solid and permanent they were – it is You, of all people, who have now broken Your word.”
Some question the goodness of God’s character. In Job 30:20-26, Job says,
I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; when I stand up, You [merely] look at me. You have turned against me with cruelty; You harass me with Your strong hand. You lift me up on the wind and make me ride [it]; You scatter me in the storm. Yes, I know that You will lead me to death – the place appointed for all who live. Yet no one would stretch out [his] hand against a ruined man when he cries out to him for help because of his distress. Have I not wept for those who have fallen on hard times? Has my soul not grieved for the needy? But when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, darkness came.

Job makes a rather amazing claim. He says that when he encountered those who had fallen on hard times, he wept for them. When he heard a cry for help, he grieved. What does he get from God? Harassment when he looked for help. Darkness when he looked for light. Evil when he looked for good. Job claims to have more compassion than God.
There were those who questioned the goodness of God’s actions. When Jesus received word that Lazarus was sick, John 11:6 says that Jesus stayed where He was for two days. After the two days, He told His disciples it was time to go to Lazarus. But Lazarus was already dead.
As Jesus walked to the house, Lazarus’ sister, Martha said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” We can’t help but hear a sense of judgment. ‘If You had taken this more seriously and gotten here as quick as You could, my brother would be alive today.’
You are a covenant breaker.
You are less compassionate than I am.
You could have done something, but You let my loved one die.
There are no isolated circumstances that fail to fit in God’s scheme. Everything we go through is building toward the rest of our lives. And this is not only true for us as individuals, but it is true for us as the community of the church. There is nothing we will be able to look at, when it is all said and done, and say, ‘This did not fit. This was a waste.’ Romans 8:28 says God is at work to make everything good for the believer. The words ‘works together’ literally mean that God will take all of the elements and turn them into something greater. Because we are called according to His purpose and not a purpose of our own. All things are working together for good. Each connected together like puzzle pieces to form a picture. The events of our lives are coming together and the overall picture is good.
The problem is that we simply cannot or will not see the big picture. We are like amateur chess players. Amateur chess players can only see three moves ahead. I certainly fall under the category of amateur. I know what I will do with the first ten moves or so. I have a great opening that sets up a classic defense. Then, I do not know what to do. I cannot see far enough ahead to finish the game. Grandmaster chess players can see as many as thirty moves ahead. Thirty moves. So, while I watch and wonder, ‘What are they doing?’ They have a plan.
It is ironic that we would question a grandmaster. And it is ironic that we would question God, who has the whole thing mapped out. He is so far ahead of us. So, while we are wondering which job to take, which person to date, and which place to move to, God is saying, ‘There is so much more. Just watch. There is so much more to this single moment.’
And it is true in tragedy as well. There is more than the moment. We don’t understand it, don’t want to accept it, but the world is imperfect and it is full of sin. But sin does not have the last word. Because there will come a day when God will make all things right. There is coming a day when justice will have its day in the sun and everything will be as it should be. Now, we can only long for answers that make it all work. One day, God will completely remake this world and everything will be the way it was meant to be.
This is what I told my daughter. And it did not answer every question. Because, as long as we can’t see it all, there is no perfect answer. It doesn’t take away the awful sinking in the stomach, or the sting in the heart, that death brings. But it gives us hope to keep going and renews our longing for the day when He sets things straight.


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