There has been much written about the events in Newton, Connecticut that transpired last week. I would like to share with you all the viewpoint of Adam Hamilton, a United Methodist pastor at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. I feel his thoughts are very important for us to remember as we process our feelings of this tragedy. I pray these words help you in your questions and provide you a means of talking about this with others. I want us to be bold in our faith and not afraid of the question of "Why?" when presented to us.
Here is a post from his blog:
“Everything happens for a reason,” he said as he reflected upon the terrible
events that had occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. I suppose these words were
meant to be comforting. Implicit in them is the idea that there is a grand
plan, this horrible tragedy is a part of that plan, and that with time we’ll see
and understand the good that was the result of this horrible evil.
is the shooting of twenty children and their teachers really a part of a grand
plan – an essential means to a greater end? This implies that there is a script
that has already been written by which the events of our world unfold, one
leading to another, until the happy ending is finally reached. In this picture
of reality, we’re all characters in the novel that God is writing. We merely do
or experience what the Author intends.
Here’s why I think this is
wrong: If everything happens for a reason, according to God’s plan, then the
plot to kill twenty children and six teachers and administrators did not
originate in the mind of Adam Lanza, but in the mind of God. God intended this,
and put it in the mind of Adam Lanza, because it was a part of God’s plan. What
kind of “god” intends children to be killed? What greater good could possibly
justify the horrible pain their parents must endure? If “everything happens for
a reason,” then every act of evil is ultimately God’s doing. Rape, abuse of
children, terrorism, the cruelty human beings perpetrate on one another – are
all of these really the will of God?
This line of reasoning does two
things: It removes human responsibility for evil acts, and it makes God
culpable for all evil, having intended it to happen. What kind of monster wills
all the horrible events in this world, even if for some greater good? Can the
ends really justify the means when the means are the murder of a child or the
many other forms evil takes in our world?
A more accurate assessment is
that the evil that happens in this world is not God’s will and is, in fact, a
thwarting of his plan. The Bible calls us to love our neighbors, and to do
justice and love kindness, not to indiscriminately kill one another. So how do
we explain the kind of evil we saw in Connecticut last week? I suspect that
here theists and atheists would agree: Human beings have within them the
ability to choose evil or good. We wake up each day facing the age-old struggle
of good and evil. In some situations mental illness clouds our
Our struggle with good and evil is manifest in a hundred small
decisions each day: Will I text and drive, or leave my phone alone until I get
where I’m going? Will I gossip about my co-worker or choose to speak about them
the way I hope they would speak about me? Will I act upon my worst impulses or
my best? Will I show mercy or seek revenge? Will I bless or curse? Will I
live only for myself, or will I love my neighbor as myself?
killing of twenty children and their teachers and principal at Sandy Hook
Elementary School was not part of God’s grand plan. It was a thwarting of God’s
plan. It was the misuse of human freedom. Why then did God not stop it? For
the same reason he does not stop you from texting and driving, or living selfish
and self-absorbed lives; the same reason he allows us to ignore the poor, or to
cheat on our spouses or to abuse power: Because the freedom to make choices is
an essential part of what it means to be human.
Yet God has not left us
entirely to our own devices. God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the
heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the
darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of
God’s work to save the world.
The Christmas story ends at a cross and an
empty tomb. God becomes subject to the evil humanity is capable of. He is
tortured and hung on a cross and dies there in agony. But this is not the end
of the story. On the third day, the tomb is empty, and Christ is risen. Easter
declares that death and hate and evil will never have the final word.
Even now, in Newtown, Connecticut, evil will not prevail. Every act of
evil produces a thousand acts of goodness. We’ve seen this in the stories
coming out of Connecticut. We’ve felt it in our own hearts. This terrible
tragedy touched a nation, and aroused kindness and compassion in our hearts.
While some misuse their freedom to perpetrate evil, millions respond by feeling
compelled to use their freedom to do good. Everything doesn’t happen for a
reason, if by this we mean evil is a part of God’s plan. But God does ensure
that evil will not prevail and that light will always, ultimately, overcome the
darkness. If we follow God’s lead, our work is to push back the darkness.
Have a great week and I will see you all Sunday!