Many of us are still operating in a state of disbelief over the incredibly evil and destructive assault on the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 of last year. Even so, with a distance of some 3,000 miles and nearly three weeks, it’s sadly easy to be dismissive of its horror until we are somehow reminded of it.
For me, the reminder has come almost daily as we have had the opportunity to have our 5-year-old granddaughter with us since before Christmas. I don’t think there has been a moment when I have gazed upon her in silence thinking how awful some parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters still have it, and will continue to have it for a long, long time.
This Christmas was radically different for them as will be every Christmas from this point on. It’s heartbreaking to contemplate it.
I think for many the question that remains is “how?” And, “how” offered up in various ways:
“How could he have gotten in the school?”
“How could anyone even contemplate such a horrendous act?”
And perhaps the most difficult of all, “How could an all loving, all knowing God, allow it?”
I once heard someone say that the most loving act God ever performed was bestowing upon the crown of his creation, mankind, free will. This loving act brings with it all kinds of downsides, however. Because of the sometimes toxic mix of free will and a fallen nature, some will choose to open fire in elementary schools and movie theaters. Because God loves you and me enough to not MAKE us choose him, our race, while seasoned with much goodness and kindness, is also flavored with the bitter. It’s the grim reality of a free existence.
But just as death’s reality doesn’t negate life, so too sin and a choice to act in a depraved manner neither negates God nor invalidates his existence. The one who loves you and wants to be in relationship with you, also sheds tears of grief over the shameless actions of those who irresponsibly exercise their divinely-granted free will. As long as depravity is a part of the equation, pain will be, too. The prophet Isaiah was correct when he stated “All we like sheep have gone astray, each to our own way.” It’s part of our fallen nature and it won’t be eradicated until we’re made perfect in his sight. Until then, sin will happen and we will continue to join our tears with his, and grieve this loss still, doing so in the company of the almighty.