Amid the “most wonderful season of all” came the tragic news of a deranged young man entering an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 26, including 20 beautiful children. Tragically, Christmas for these families was perhaps the darkest of many dark hours to come. The days when parents could send their children off to school with confidence that they would be cared for and protected seem long gone.
My heart, like those of so many Americans, is grieved over such senseless violence. The Bible says we are to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and it is in such an hour of heartache and loss that the comfort and compassion of our Savior is more than abundant. Our Father in Heaven is the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).
There are no more safe havens as schools and even churches become killing fields for the deranged and bitter. It wasn’t so long ago that 32 students at Virginia Tech Polytechnic Institute and State University were murdered by a disgruntled student. Then, and at Newtown as well, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association sent dozens of Rapid Response chaplains to respond to the tragedies with the love and compassion of the Savior.
As we look around our country, it’s hard to ignore the rising tide of evil in our coarsened culture. Just last summer we watched a senseless shooting spree in a Colorado movie theater take the lives of 12 people and injure another 59. The national premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” had Americans clamoring for tickets to be entertained by yet another movie that promoted and endorsed violent, dark behavior.
I wonder why when tragedies like these occur, we respond with such shock and awe. Psychiatrist Keith Ablow said, “This kind of shock registers with people—because it seems like the unthinkable keeps moving into the sphere of our reality.”
Well, the first “unthinkable” surfaced in mankind thousands of years ago when Cain killed his brother Abel out of mere jealousy and rivalry. God had warned Cain, “Sin is crouching at your door” (Genesis 4:7, NIV), but Cain ignored God’s word and committed murder. God punished Cain for taking innocent life, but the violent shedding of blood has continued unabated for centuries. Why?
The Bible answers this question with certainty: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, the Bible gives clear testimony to just how evil the human race became. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. … And [the Lord] was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:5-6).
Where do we go from here? We might start by looking at what we watch and listen to. For example, South Korean rapping sensation, Psy, who has gained worldwide acclaim by singing that Americans should be killed “slowly and painfully,” including, “daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers” was featured at “Christmas in Washington,” a charity concert attended by President Obama. Parents and children are feeding on entertainment that portrays violence whether through lewd television programs, violent movies, offensive music, vulgar video games or anything-goes Internet gaming sites.
Society craves violence as long as it comes in the form of entertainment. Our outlook changes when we become its victims. But God does not stand by unconcerned. His love for mankind is so overwhelmingly powerful that He “gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). On the cross, Jesus bore the wrath of God against sin so that we might be forgiven of our sin and evil.
We should turn our minds and hearts from wickedness and remember what God has done for the world He loves. He sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the One to point us to the way of truth. His innocent blood was shed to cover our sinful hearts, and to those who will seek Him, He offers His abiding peace. He is the peace that surpasses all understanding.
The same God who gave the world His greatest gift, will also comfort the hearts of the grieving—in Newtown, Conn., or anywhere else—for He understands grief. As our suffering Savior, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). The Lord Jesus Christ became a curse for us so that His promise would be fulfilled through faith in Him (See Galatians 3:13).
The real shocking awe is not that evil visited Newtown on that tragic day, but that on Christmas Day, God stepped out of eternity into time in the form of a babe so that He could deliver us from sin and death. One day, when our Savior returns, evil and evildoers will be swept away, and “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Revelation 21:4).
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. The Scripture quotation marked NIV is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.