As most of the rest of the world did this week, I spent a good portion of it in shock. Then angry, then in tears and then praying. It shocked me that yet again someone would exact such violence upon children. CHILDREN. I had an extreme amount of compassion for their poor parents that lost their babies so close to Christmas. I have buried a few family members including my sister and I know that it doesn't matter what part of the year that they die it will always be hard. But this type of grief so close to a major holiday is like turning the knife a little quicker, pushing it a little deeper and holding it in a little longer. Partially because they don't have any time to prepare before the next emotional heartache they will suffer. Also because the families will feel the need to normalize this Christmas for the rest of their families and there is no way to do that. The need to create that illusion is an innate drive but the ability to create it and remain emotionally present is a farce. I remember the first Christmas I had after my sister was gone. I remember knowing my mom was trying to make it normal and she failed so catastrophically. I remember seeing her pain and wanting to comfort her and let her know that it was okay not for it to be normal. Because it was so far from normal for me too.
Because I am from a family of educators I couldn't help but think of the teachers. So sure that they were terrified and knowing that if my family members were in that situation they wouldn't hesitate to place themselves in front of their students. I have gained a marine for a family member recently and I have done a lot of contemplating about what it means for Nick to be willing lay his life on the line for us. This tragedy helped me to consider how many other professions there are where we are called to protect and serve. It's obvious that those who carry weapons to defend us do that. They are called the sheep dogs, we are the sheep and the 'bad guys' are the wolves. But occasionally a simple sheep stands in front of their fellow sheep and protects them. I am sure there are many heroes to draw attention to and to honor in this situation. The stories are coming to light hourly of these brave people.
I also am thinking of the men and women who are our 'sheep dogs' who had to care for the victims as they died and afterwards and those who notified the families. I can't imagine their suffering right now. I can only pray that God can ease their pain. But I cannot imagine anything that would. I cannot find any comfort in this situation. Knowing that Heaven is a better place is little comfort in this type of grief.
And like you, I have wondered. How does this happen? Is this a product of our 'gun hungry' society? Is this tragedy a product of a lack of attention to mental illness and proper treatment of it? If there had been an armed educator in the building would that have stopped it? If we didn't allow the legal sale of guns in our country, would that have prevented this tragedy?
I don't think so. I don't think any of those things are the issues. The issue is evil. Evil rules our world. It is rampant and Satan is in power. For sure, God will return and He will make Satan pay. But for now, we live in a world of our own choosing. We have chosen sin. We choose it now, today and for millenia our predecessors have chosen it.
And like sheep, we are duped. We think we can control evil. We think we can place it in a box in our lives and only allow it to go so far. We are wrong. There is only one thing that can stop evil in our lives and our world. That is the relentless, passionate pursuit of God. He is the sole antidote.
I am duped every day. I do not say this to throw stones. I swallow the lie as well. I think, well, this sin isn't that bad. If I swear and profane things, and think to myself: at least I'm being honest. It's better than being a liar. But God is clear, James 3:10, we should not bless and curse out of the same mouth (my paraphrase). I know it's wrong and yet I do it anyway. I think I can control the evil. As if disobeying God is an option that won't lead to more disobeying. To be honest when I swear, I'm more prone to anger, I feel it more completely. But I think I'm letting it out which is better than keeping it in. So I'm duped into thinking it's okay for me to release my anger into the big wide world. Which is also a whole other sin that makes me more important than you in my mind, another sin, pride. And therefore evil. Yet I choose to ignore it. I choose to believe that Satan is not as powerful as he is and that I am in total control. That there is no such thing as giving Evil a foothold.
But I'm wrong and deluded and so are you. To be fair I think that the man that committed these atrocities is mentally insane. I don't have another explanation for how someone could do something like this. And I am no expert on mental illness and evil and God and how that all works out. But we should heed the warning just the same. If you give Satan an inch, don't expect him to be satisfied with that. He's always going to want more. He's come to kill, steal and destroy. If you let him have part of you, he's going to want the rest. And to take out your family, friends and loved ones while he's at it.
Relentless pursuit of the Holy, that which is good, right and godly. Of God, Himself. This is what our antidote to evil is. Please pray for these victims for their families, community and those that serve them. And please pray for yourself as well. That you can hold tightly to Christ and make Him first in your life. I will pray for you and for us as well.