God in the Face of Tragedy

"Within a century, the Bible will be extinct."  -  Voltaire (1694-1778)

Fortunately, these words by French philosopher and writer Voltaire have been proven false.  He never lived to see the day when the Bible goes out of print.  It is still one of the most widely sold books in the world.  But I do wonder, what if Voltaire were alive today? What if he turned on his television last week and watched in horror (as we all did) about the shooting at the movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado?  Would this action have bolstered his unbelief, or challenged it?  On July 20th, James Holmes walked into a theatre during a late night showing and began shooting innocent people.  As a blogger and a Christian, I find the urge to write about this event too strong to overcome.  I need to say something.  But I am not going to state only the obvious - that this act was evil and malevolent.  It was.  The fact that Holmes may be mentally unstable does not change the fact that the action was pre-meditated and horrible. We are still faced with the reality of evil, even if the vehicle of that evil was mentally unbalanced and confused.  Nor will I speak about gun control, or lack thereof.  Guns are already here and prevalent in America, we must deal with them.  Instead, I want to talk about something else.

The media covered the facts surrounding the shooting fairly well.  They named the city and movie theatre, they interviewed the witnesses, and they posted a picture of the man accused of this terrible act.  But something seemed to be missing.  As I began to delve a little further into the details of this tragic event, I was amazed by something.  Watch closely to some of the language being used by the victims.  They talk about God and prayer.  They mention faith and hope.  Now mind you, these were the people trapped in the very theatre where Holmes began shooting - they were not armchair quarterbacks, discussing this crime from a safe vantage point after-the-fact (like yours truly).  In short, when it was time to run, these people chose to run to God.  This is remarkable.  

I read a blog posting from a mother who had attended the movie premier that night in Colorado.  In her post she quotes the Bible frequently, upholds the character of Jesus, and maintains that God is still good and merciful.  Good and merciful.  This woman had bullets whizzing by her head 24 hours previous to writing those words.  Friends, I can understand being grateful to be alive, but the mere fact that so many of these people spoke out through prayer and faith was nothing short of amazing.  Where is God when evil occurs?  Apparently, right in our midst, alongside the people experiencing the pain.  

For a short while after the events of September 11th, 2001, I think our nation pulled together in prayer and supplication to God.  In light of events like this, man is left in awe of some people's utter disregard for human life.  Atheism has nothing to say about this.  People run to God.  Not because He is a crutch or some other venue for weakness, but  because when we are afraid (and I mean truly afraid), most of us recognize that greater meaning exists.  Humanity is not just the culmination of evil and chaos.  Instead, we fight past the chaos and search for meaning - that is our way.  The events in Colorado were no different.  That more of this type of thing doesn't happen on a regular basis, I am truly grateful.  That it happens at all, is more than just troubling.    

Christianity has an answer for suffering and evil.  When sin entered into our world, life would never be the same.  The Fall of Man and the Garden of Eden have affected the very fabric of our lives, even thousands of years later.  Many people (even other Christians) believe that these stories where metaphors used in the Old Testament to describe what happens when human beings tell God to mind His own business.  But I wonder just how literal those ancient events may have been.  We suffer because we live in a broken world, surrounded by imperfect people.  But as I have said before in other posts, this answer can seem rather academic sometimes.  This is why I find it much more interesting that many of the people in the theatre that night didn't even bother to make arguments or excuses for God - they simply ran to Him.  They prayed to Him.  And they were grateful for His comfort.  I think there is a lesson here, and I am ready to listen.  

I will add one more thing.  As most of us know, the film being shown that night was The Dark Knight Rises, a gritty, realistic adaptation of the comic-book character Batman.  Director Christopher Nolan is well-known for his portrayal of this character.  The last two Batman films (and from what I hear this one is no different) are cloaked in violence, and they depict the fictional Gotham City as shrouded in fear and moral decay.  I'm not picking on the Batman franchise, or even on Warner Brothers.  But shooting suspect James Holmes has stated to the press that he thought of himself as "The Joker."  What are we teaching our children with these movies?  Should it bother me that a good majority of successful box-office films are violence-filled and rated R?  Does it bother you?  Should it bother us more?

I am grateful that God is good, and He is real.  If I were in the theatre that night with my family, would I still think so?  I can only conjecture and say that I hope so.  I am glad that many of the people who were actually there thought so as well. 


  1. Very well spoken. I agree.

  2. Great thoughts! Thanks for sharing.


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