October 18, 2017
Where Was God In The Las Vegas Shooting?
I was so horrified by the recent Las Vegas shootings. In the face of tragedies, the questions crash in like waves. What would possess a man to kill people he doesn’t even know? Why did he pick Las Vegas? How did he get to this point in life and never find help?
Of course there is always the God factor when tragedy strikes; where was He in all of this and why didn’t He help? (Curiously, in disasters God’s motives are often questioned by people…many of whom never serve Him and some who don’t even believe in Him.) These questions plague our souls and beg to be answered. On the day of the shooting I caught myself checking the news several times a day to find the killer’s motive. My biggest question and inner dialogue was, “What the heck were you thinking?”
Why Didn’t God Stop The Shooter?
So why do people do bad things and why doesn’t God stop them? The answer begins with love! You see, love itself demands freewill. It isn’t a feeling, but rather a choice. Let’s unpack this a bit. God could have programed us to only do good. However, if we were programmed to do good, then it wouldn’t really be our choice to behave that way. We’d be robots who didn’t have the option, and therefore couldn’t even have the intent, to do good over evil. If goodness was programed in us, and not a chosen behavior, it wouldn’t (and in fact couldn’t) be rooted in love.
So the risk of love is free will; we can choose love but only at the risk of our ability to choose hate, rape, violence, or even murder. God could stop all evil in a moment simply by making goodness an instinct in us, in the same way that animals live instinctively. But the nature of love is that it can’t be instinctive, it must be a free will choice. That’s why love doesn’t follow feelings, but rather feelings follow the choice of love (the choices we make to treat others with goodness). Think about it: if love were a feeling then we would be enslaved by it, as we often have very little control over the way we feel. But feelings are love’s servant, not its master.
The Freedom To Love Comes With Responsibility
So strangely enough, the power of hate is rooted in the nature of love’s free will. For example; God gave Stephen Paddock (the shooter in Las Vegas) the ability to love, but Stephen used his freedom to the detriment of thousands. So why didn’t God stop this horrible thing from happening? Because that would have violated freedom, and therefore our option to choose to love. If God were to have stopped the shooter, He would have ripped through the very fabric of what makes us human and not robots. We have to remember that our freedom to love comes with great responsibility. We have a choice, every single day, to use our freedom for good.
Justice Is Rooted in God
Some may think that Paddock took his own life to avoid the pain of justice. But justice is an infinite truth rooted in the nature of God. As the Hebrew writer put it, “It’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) Stephen Paddock, I wouldn’t want to be you!
Just as Ezekiel was called to look at a hopeless situation of death and dismay and have a role in changing the course of history, so must we as believers look at our world and see beyond despair. Don’t forget, our God is the author of redemption and He’s the most powerful person I know. So in a time when people are hungering for hope and asking a slew of questions, I want to propose one to you: In the face of despair, what will you do with your freewill? Will you be a catalyst for others to encounter God? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.
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