On Wednesday, February 14th at 2:19pm, a young man named Nikolas Cruz opened fire on his classmates in Parkland Florida killing seventeen people in all.
Two of these people were adults attempting to shield and save the lives of students by standing between them and the reign of fire that was coming down. The shooter now faces seventeen counts of premeditated murder and will most likely be either executed or sent to prison for the remainder of his life.
This event was evil. Plain and simple. Whether demonic influence had a part, or Nikolas had simply allowed his conscience to be seared to the point of nonexistence, evil occurred this day and there were many lives lost in its wake. During these times it’s very easy to wonder where this type of behavior derives from. Most of us cannot imagine walking into our school or work place only to murder our friends and co-workers in cold blood. This is simply not something we think about. Yet it is a reality. This happens more than we like to think and in the aftermath we are left with one singular question. Why?
If you are looking for the answer to that question in this article, I’m sorry to say you came to the wrong place. I’m not convinced that anyone has the ability to understand, much less explain, why these things happen. Some try to look to the home life or childhood of the murderer in an attempt to understand the motive behind the crime. Others look to his social media accounts and friends to try to make sense of a senseless act. Many Christians attribute it to the fall (and for sure this is true) and make things very theological. Whether this is helpful to the grieving families or not I don’t know. I have known Christians who take no amount of comfort knowing that God is sovereign in these times. The knowledge that everything, the good and the evil, is part of God’s plan can be hard. The sovereignty of God is a theology with a double edge. It can bring the greatest comfort in times of need, or it can be the very thing that causes us, in our limited intellect, the greatest grief.
I know that sin is a reality. These murders indeed happened because of sin. For some reason, God decided to remove His hand of restraining grace and the natural state of this young man took over in full force. This is the reality. Although I do not always understand why evil is allowed to endure, I must remember two very important truths:
1. God Is Indeed Sovereign
I know what I said above. Yet I must keep in mind the finite state of my intellect and understanding. God’s will is so far above my comprehension. I cannot begin to understand the plane that He is working on. His thoughts are so far above me that if He were to clue me in on a fraction of His mind, it would cease my existence. I would be reduced to nothing. This is how big God is. He is all powerful and all things occur for His glory and praise. I confess I do not understand how that works. No one does. All I can do is trust in it. There are some things in the life of a Christian that we will never understand. This is when our theology must come to our rescue. We must trust in God and His love for us. We must trust that He knows our hearts and struggles. We must trust in His will. We must say with Job that “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
2. All Things Lead To The Gospel
This is probably the most important truth to remember when tragedy and the hardships of life hit. All things, great or small, good or evil, have two purposes. They either bring people to Christ or they are used as a means of hardening their heart as the plagues did with Pharaoh. The ultimate reason good and bad things happen is to bring God glory through these two responses. This is a hard truth as well. Yet remember this, God is the supreme ruler of the cosmos. The first and the last, the beginning and the end. All things are under His feet and He is supreme over all things. He is not bound by anything nor is He required to give an account for His will. He simply does what He pleases because that is what it means to be God. Now, before you say that sounds like a tyrant, please allow me to remind you of something very important. We disobeyed this ruler. We shook our fist in His face and challenged His throne and His rule. We said our way was better and He should take a seat in the back while we got behind the wheel. We denied His truth, threw away His blessing of peace and perfection and in the ultimate act of evil, we killed His Son. We did this to God. God created us and this is how we acted.
But God, being rich in His love and mercy did not count these sins against us. He placed them on the shoulders of Christ and gave Jesus the punishment and wrath every single one of us rightly deserved. After everything we did, this is what God did for us. This is not tyranny my friends, this is mercy indescribable. With all the right that God had to snuff us out of existence, this is His response. Anytime we begin to think God is unfair, this simply means we have too high a view of ourselves and too low a view of God. This is the plain and simple truth.
When tragedy strikes, we must grieve. We must comfort the broken and the hurting. We must be there for them and give them our love. We must remind them that God is there, in the midst of the tragedy. We must give them Jesus. He is what they most desperately need. Only Christ can bring comfort and lasting peace in the wake of such evil. So pray for the families of Parkland. Pray that in their grief they will run to Jesus and His mercy. Pray that God will comfort the hurting and bring them into His care. Pray that hearts will be softened for the Gospel and lives will be changed. Christ is the only hope for this broken, messed up world.