So I have been reflecting on the terrible tragedy that struck Las Vegas on Sunday (since I do not watch TV or listen to the radio, it actually took me some time to hear the news). In fact, I read my first article about the event only an hour ago, and internally debated about whether or not I should post something here.
However, I haven’t shied away from reflecting on issues that have burdened my heart in the past, and I do not plan to start now. I don’t know how profound my thoughts will be, but I will take a few moments to share them here.
When darkness strikes – when horrible things happen that we cannot explain – the experience often shakes our faith in God and trust in humanity to the very core. We see terrible things happening all over the world, and we question why God would allow these things to take place.
I do not have any answers for you, but I can tell you this: when these things happen, the heart of God is greatly grieved. It is never His desired will that something like this happens, even though we know that He has the power to stop it.
There is an interesting tension between the sovereign will of God and the freedom of choice He’s given us as human beings. While we are completely dependent on Him for survival, the Lord allows us to make certain choices that potentially have a negative impact on us and on those within our sphere of influence (consider the story of Adam and Eve, for instance).
Think about it: If God stopped us every time we did something wrong, then our free will would be nullified, and we would’ve lost our ability to choose. And without that choice, we more or less would be like the animals around us – possessing an ability to survive and reproduce, but without any discernible moral compass.
Like I said, I neither understand nor can explain Sunday’s tragic events. I don’t know why God allows bad things to happen. I don’t know why someone would do something so shrewd and calculating, except to say that he made a choice to embrace the darkness. And his choice literally destroyed the lives of many people, who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Our actions are powerful, and have untold consequences. However, rather than focusing our attention on all that is negative, let’s remember the Power who is available to us, 24/7. And for reasons I do not fully understand, He wants to use us to accomplish His purposes in this world. How, you may be wondering? Well, this verse from the book of Romans comes to mind:
Love must be without hypocrisy. During times of crisis and significant moral decline in the world around us, this must be our response. We must love our neighbors, as the Bible commands, but our actions and our words must demonstrate integrity, and not hypocrisy. Rather than focusing on all the problems “out there,” let God use you to be a catalyst for Him right where you are!
Detest evil. Additionally, this verse asks us to “detest evil.” These are strong words! To detest something means that you hate it. We are not to embrace the darkness, so we should be careful about the things and people we allow to influence us. If something is wrong in the eyes of God, then believe and accept this truth: it is wrong! (especially when the rest of the world is saying the complete opposite)
Cling to what is good. We end on an uplifting note, though! We have a choice to be hopeful and optimistic about our future, because we recognize that God is sovereignly in control of all things. We can choose to either cling to the good or cling to the bad, but one way or another, we’re going to be clinging to something. Wisdom tells me that clinging to the good – and the One who is good – is always my best option.
So, I can’t explain why God allows the darkness to strike sometimes, but I do believe that by the power of Jesus working within us, we can initiate changes in our families, relationships, workplaces, and other spheres of collective influence. It will be through the power of caring, one-on-one relationships that we will be able to change the world for the better – one person at a time.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being sovereignly in control of all things. Please show Yourself powerful and in control in the situation in Las Vegas, and provide healing, comfort, peace, and provision to those who are suffering.
Also, help those of us who claim to follow You to live lives characterized by integrity and love. May Your love shine through us, so we can make a difference in this world by overcoming evil with good – one relationship at a time. In Your name I pray, Amen.