We are all still reeling from the tragedy in Las Vegas where 59 persons lost their lives and nearly 500 were injured, some of whom are still in critical condition. As we know, to date, this is the largest and most deadly shooting in modern American history. Lots of questions about “Why,” etc. I want to address the questions I have been asked since this horrific incident.
Is this God’s will?
Absolutely and unabashedly no! It is never God’s will for human life to be treated with such utter disregard and disrespect. I recently heard from a woman who told me about an experience at a private school in Wichita. The teacher announced that this incident was God’s will because these people were listening to music that is not Christian. The teacher announced this incident would not have taken place if it would have been a Christian concert. If I had been been present for such an exchange, I would have said, “Your god is my devil.” It is terrible when people attribute to God things that stem from evil. Too often, when tragedy strikes, people do the work of the devil in the name of the Lord. Lord, have mercy on us when we blaspheme Your Name and reputation!
Why is God so seemingly silent?
I believe God speaks through the actions of the people of God who make themselves available. The danger with tragedy is that we only focus there. But, without denying or diminishing the reality of evil and suffering, there is a lot of good in the midst of the tragedy.
For example, ordinary people who step up and step in to the fray to help people in need of help. I have been moved by the story of the man, Kody Robertson, an auto parts salesman from Columbus, Ohio, who helped a woman, Michelle Vo, he had known for a few minutes. Michelle was hit with the first round of shots. She immediately fell down. He carried her to the street looking for someone to take her to the hospital, meanwhile performing CPR. A pickup truck picked up Michelle Vo’s body and this unassuming man went back to help more people. His own heroism continued throughout the night.
Please google if you want to know more about the details. When ordinary people do extraordinary things without really thinking about what to do, that is a miracle of goodness in my book. We must not forget how much goodness was being expressed in the midst of deranged, evil behavior.
What are your thoughts about gun control?
I personally affirm the Bill of Rights and in particular the Second Amendment – the right to keep and bear arms. But, I do not believe it is necessary and should not be legal for individuals other than law enforcement to own weapons the likes of which Stephen Paddock had in spades. There is something not right about individuals being able to purchase semi-automatic weapons and especially in mass quantities.
I am highly influenced by the Scripture story where Jesus is healing the Geresene demoniac as found in Luke 8:26-37 or Mark 5:1-17. The story concerns a mentally deranged person who is chained to a tree, crying out with curdling screams which raise the hair on everyone’s neck. To use the vernacular of the day, this is a bad dude. Jesus, the liberator, seeks him out, and sets him free by casting out a legion (over a thousand) of demons out of the man. Jesus sends the demons into the swine and the swine go crazy and run into the sea and drown. The people watching this were enraged because their livelihood was just destroyed. Jesus, in his brilliance, puts before them a choice: save a man or give up some privilege.
What convicts me, every time I read this passage is that we all want our cake and eat it too, as the saying goes. We want our rights and yet we don’t want to give up any privileges. The point of this powerful story is that sometimes we have to give up something to serve a greater good. My opinion is that in America, we have a question to answer, a choice to make. Are we willing to give up a right, a privilege in order to serve a common good, in order to save human life?
Why are so many bad things happening? Is this the end of the world?
I do not believe that these events are happening because it is a sign the world is ending. Another false prophet predicted the end of the world on September 24. I simply do not understand why we have people who think they know when the world will end when Jesus himself said he did not know. I have always been baffled by those who think they know more than Jesus. But as C.S. Lewis said, pain does get our attention. It is a way for us to turn back to God, the source of strength and hope. October 15 has been designated as a special day of prayer for all of the churches in America to pray for our Nation. We will do so at Chapel Hill.
–Rev. Jeff Gannon