Our daughter shared something with me this morning before getting out of the car at school. She noticed the kids from Oxford had clear backpacks at their track meet this week. I wouldn’t think a teenager would typically be too excited about everyone being able to snoop around the contents of their bag, but when evil comes so near people are willing to sacrifice these things, it seems.
The reason I heard about these clear backpacks is not because we were talking about the shooting at Oxford, but the latest one at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The latest one. Why do we even have to say or write those words? The latest one?
This is in addition to what we have seen of church shootings, the war in Ukraine, threats in the Far East, sex-scandals, etc. And those are just the stories that make the headlines! With an unprecedented number of news agencies throwing information at us, there’s still not enough time and print space to keep us up to speed with all the evil going on in the world around us.
Then there’s all that will transpire in the wake of these latest tragedies. Pundits, politicians and social media influencers are arguing their cases for whatever cause they might be fighting to have written into law to eradicate the perceived problems. Fingers will be pointed and a majority of them will not be pointed at the shooter. Someone or something needs blamed. We yearn for resolution. We yearn for justice. People want answers. We want to make evil go away.
When things like this happen and people are hurting, I often think about the beginning of the book of Job. At the end of chapter 2, Job’s friends got off to a great start. It says in verses 12-13, “they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” What an amazing response! They wept with their friend in the midst of his grief (Romans 12:15).
When it is time to say something, we need to keep in mind the kinds of things God taught Job in the final chapters. In trying to find immediate answers and quick relief, Job and his friends took their eyes off of the big picture. As a result, Job felt the need to put his hand over his mouth in repentance before God by the end of the book. When we are slow to listen and quick to speak, we will find ourselves in the same place (James 1:19).
Here are some truths to consider that can help us to process evil events like this, and perhaps even prepare us to be ready to point others to the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4):
- God alone is good and righteous. Everything He does is good and right.
- Luke 18:19 – And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
- Psalm 119:68 – You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
- God is just and He is the rightful judge over all. Even when injustice occurs in this world, full and final justice will come. God will see to it.
- Deuteronomy 32:4 – The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.
- Revelation 20:12 – And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
- This world is under the curse and full of sin. This means we will continue to see tragedy as long as the world remains in this state.
- Romans 3:10-18 – As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
- It is right for us to groan in response to the evil we see and to yearn for resolution.
- 2 Corinthians 5:4-5 – For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
- We must remember that we also have evil in our own hearts.
- Romans 7:24-25 – Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
- We must ultimately look to Jesus Christ to resolve the problem of our own sin and the sin of the world.
- Ephesians 2:4-5 – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.
- Romans 3:23-26 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
- Revelation 21:4-5 – He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
- While we wait for Jesus, Christians are to represent Him in the world. This means we should strive for righteousness, proclaim the Gospel, help the weak, pursue justice, etc. We must strive for these things in humility.
- Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
- Matthew 5:13-16 – “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
When things like the tragedy in Uvalde happen, it is right to grieve! That’s not how things are supposed to be! Where we are able to, it is good to look for practical ways we can help. We can also weep with those who weep, lend a listening ear and a helping hand, pray with and for the people who are hurting. Christians, be the kind of people God has sent us into the world to be! Pursue righteousness in your own life, treat others how you would want to be treated, be generous, offer hope, comfort, rest, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ! Let’s be shining lights in a dark world, pointing them to the only One who can truly rid the world of evil.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).