by Pastor Cori Cypret
Darkness has once again struck this nation.
20 children and seven adults lost their lives on Friday, December 14, 2012, in Newtown, CT.
A week before, three lost their lives in a shooting inside a mall near Portland, OR.
You can’t hardly turn on the news or read the headlines without hearing about another unfortunate loss of life.
Suffering. Death. Sorrow. These are feelings we know all too well. In the midst of all the pain caused by such tragedies, many of us are left with more questions than answers. We may not be directly affected by them, but nonetheless, we mourn with those who have lost loved ones. We struggle when we think of the grief those parents and siblings and teachers and communities must be experiencing, especially at Christmas time.
“Why did this happen?” “Where was God?” “Why would a good God allow such atrocities?”
We have so many questions. And there is no shortage of people trying to give answers. The media. Politicians. Religious leaders. Waitresses at the local café. More gun regulations. Fewer gun regulations. More health care for mental illnesses. More security in schools. Less violence from the entertainment industry. In the coming days and weeks, I am sure that we will learn more than we should about the Lanza family, about the families of those who lost children and loved ones. Gun manufacturers will get fearful that their bottom lines will be affected. Politicians will use these events to bolster their bottom line. The Religious Right will use it. The Religious Left will use it.
But through it all, we won’t be any closer to having answers. “Where was God?” “Why does He allow this to happen?” We all struggle with these questions.
The truth is, there is evil. We live in a fallen world ravaged by sin. Evil runs rampant. Jesus said, in John 10:10, “the thief (that is, the devil) comes to steal and kill and destroy.” When we look at the event in Newtown, CT, we see evil. When we think of Aurora, CO, or Oak Creek, WI, or Fort Hood, TX, or Virginia Tech, or Columbine –when we think of these tragedies, we see Evil!
God does not will for evil to happen. Our grief, our mourning, is the proper response to such atrocities. When evil strikes in this life, God weeps with us. When we search for answers to the questions that seem to have none, we can know that God is right there with us. We can know that, through Jesus, even though we may not know the answers, we can still have hope.
Isaiah 9:2 states, “The people who dwell in darkness will see a great Light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a Light will shine.” Jesus Christ is that Light. There are times when it seems that the darkness and evil of this world will win. But we know that no matter what, the Light will always drive out the darkness.
As we seek, as individuals and as a nation, to come to grips with yet another atrocious act of darkness and evil, I invite you to come join us as we all seek to find understanding and comfort in our God who mourns with us, and our God who brings Light in the midst of darkness.
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.