Hurricanes, tornadoes, mass flooding brought the news of dozens dead, whole cities under water and billions needed to rebuild. And now, a Las Vegas gunman rains his fury down on hundreds of innocent concertgoers before taking his own life. The death and devastation of innocent people has shaken the stoutest faith and caused the bravest heart to cower. America’s hope seems to be fading; its anger simmering; fear reigning and tomorrow doesn’t appear as bright anymore. Pure evil has demonstrated no one is safe, inside a classroom, a shopping mall, a concert venue, or even a church. Gunmen are killing people. And an obvious question is raised:
“Why would a loving God allow tragedy like this?”
For some people, this is the only question that matters. God receives either their praise or blame depending on their circumstances. C.S. Lewis wrote: The problem of pain is atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith.” Then how do we answer this question?
First, some historical perspective is needed. Tragedy is no stranger to all generations or cultures. We tragically lost 59 Americans in this latest Vegas shooting. Comparably, however, in the months following the Nazi attack of the Soviet Union, an average of one million souls perished each week, slowed only by the winter of 1941. Beginning April 7, 1994 in Rwanda, more than 800,000 Tutsis were murdered during a four months attempt at genocide. In the early 13th Century, Mongol leader, Genghis Kahn slaughter nearly 25% of the European population. And if that wasn’t tragic enough, within 100 years another 75-200 million men, women and children died horribly from fleabites, causing a pandemic known as The Black Death. In 1918 the Spanish Flu killed over 18 million in Western Europe and the United States.
Needless to say, tragedy is a part of the human experience.
Obviously, we live in a broken world, but God didn’t break it. We did. From the beginning, pride produced sin. We push God away and over millenniums of corruption, the human heart has grown immeasurably and disparately more wicked. Left to itself, the heart is convinced it knows more about “goodness” than God does.
In the meantime, how can a Sovereign God, limitless in goodness, use tragedy?
Instantly, tragedy makes us feel mortal, fragile and vulnerable. We are humbled with helplessness. Is that a good thing? What if humility had always been the reigning virtue of mankind? Within every chapter of human history, humility itself would have saved millions of lives and an incalculable amount of pain would have been replaced with peace.
How about you personally? How much has pride, either your own or someone else’s, cost you?
This world is broken and so is the human heart, and more often than not, innocent people pay the price for it. The heart convinces itself that good is evil and evil, good. It pushes God away; creates its own rules and persuades itself that it’s invincible until…
Tragedy humbles us. And humility will turn the American heart back to God. This is my hope. Through Christ and the message of the Cross, God extends love and acceptance to sinners like me. He offers forgiveness and the hope of a New Heaven and New Earth. Jesus is our Hope, and hope says, “Better days are coming.”
Tragedy doesn’t seem quite so tragic with that message.