This morning I wake up to texts and calls from family. Some—who live locally, wish to know if I’ve seen the news this morning. The others who don’t, ask if I or anyone I know went to the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises where the mass shooting occurred. If I’m okay, alive, or shaken personally by this.
When I’m suddenly faced with a darkness that not only takes me by surprise, but seems to slap me sideways—reminding me that I forgot about evil, forgot that it’s out there, ready to forsake innocence, to steal, to kill, and to destroy,
what do I say?
What is my response?
It’s at times like these it seems, that both Atheists and Theists utter a word they do or do not believe to be real:
Further, the question of direction and place is posited, “Oh God, where are you now?” While each of us ask the same question, the meaning behind the question varies contingent on the asker. Some seek to really see just where God is, and why God chose to let this happen. Others seek to see the utter absence of God; they seek to see that God is nowhere.
(Sufjan Stevens’ “Oh God, Where Are You Now?”)
And to be honest, times like these can make me feel this to be the case.
It’s not just in the act of carnage that one wicked man chose to inflict on innocence—looking to be entertained, in whatever way, for whatever reason looking to escape reality, but in the mere fact that for me, for many in the area, life merely goes on.
We respond to loved one queries on Facebook that yes, we’re okay. No, we didn’t go to the midnight showing last night. Aurora isn’t anywhere near where we live and there’s a whole bunch of theaters between here and there that I would pick over going there. No, Aurora and Columbine are nowhere near each other. No, we don’t have any inside information.
And then we go back to our daily routine. Life doesn’t stop. Our obligations don’t stop. So just where is God in that? Where is God in the banal continuation of life when evil has occurred that shocks and shakes us, yet doesn’t truly affect us, and thus, we move on instantaneously?
The hardest thing about my personal belief in God is not the times debating God’s existence, not the times I’m poked fun of as the guy who always has his Bible handy, nor arguing a campus preacher or family about believing that God IS LOVE, and because of that, Hell is not eternal; no. The most difficult times for me are to be faced with the utter mystery of it all. The times where something happens that I can’t reveal my heart, or my knowledge of God. The times that seem to surprise attack me with a slap in the neck and a “where’s your God now?!?!?” attitude.
Because it’s these times where I don’t have anything to fall back on but faith, hope, and love.
Can I explain in clear and precise theological detail what God is doing in the specifics of the gruesome event and why? NO.
And honestly, it would be blasphemous and insulting to the people involved—those that lost their lives, those that lost loved ones, those that were injured, if I (or anyone) attempted to.
Increasingly I’ve become faced with not only the utter mystery of God, but that my true fear in life is that God is not good. I’m not afraid of death. I’ve faced it too many times in too many ways. What I am scared to death of is that there’s no greater purpose to it all. That God—the creator, sustainer, Father of ALL things, isn’t a good God.
So no, I can’t tell you God’s purpose in this attack. I can’t say that it will all work out to good.
I CAN however, say that when Jesus breathed his last breath on the Cross, and ‘released his Spirit,’ the Veil in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies (traditionally believed to be where God dwelled) was torn in two, from top to bottom, symbolizing the outpouring into all the world. (Matthew. 27: 50, 51)
I can tell you that it’s not the sacred that is in danger of the profane, but with the veil torn and the Holy of Holies being poured out, it in fact is the profane that is in danger of becoming sacred.I can say that Jesus has said that He is “making ALL THINGS new.” (Revelation 21: 5)
That is where my faith and hope lay.
As for love, I have not been affected personally by this tragedy, nor know anyone who has, but I am choosing to honor those that have by not attempting to explain away their loss, their sadness, their darkness. And while perfect love casts out, dispels fear, what does it mean when I’m still afraid? What does it mean for those that were afraid? That are dealing with the aftermath of something that caused so much fear and pain?
I cannot say WHAT God is doing, but I can say that I know and trust that God IS doing [something].
And the world will be better for this…
FOR MORE OF MY THOUGHTS ON TRAGEDY, VIEW MY SEPTEMBER 11TH BLOG HERE
AND BE SURE TO VIEW BELOW FOR MY EXTRA SIDE NOTE COMMENT ONE EVIL, GOOD, AND TRUST IN GOD
One response to “A Dark (K)Night Risen”
I’ve recently been reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and love how he discusses the thought of evil in man, of the Devil, and of Hell. At one point Lucifer—the Devil explains to the main character Dream, that “I thought I was Rebelling. I thought I was defying His [God’s] rule. No…I was merely fulfilling another tiny segment of His great and powerful plan. If I had not rebelled, another would have in my stead.” He explains how men are prone and wired to not choose good, to be evil, and that he [the Devil] may be powerful, but he’s not strong enough to make every human on the face of the earth do wicked. That it is man themselves being what they are.
Later, discussing Hell, a boy that has recently died says to another that Hell is “something you carry around with you. Not somewhere you go.” That Hell is a place eventually, when there is no more of ‘you’ to carry it, but Hell is not a place you stay forever.
What do I think of all this? I think God’s a lot bigger than anyone can imagine. I think that just as God is big, equating God to love makes love bigger and more mysterious than we can know.
If this love is big, and it is for all of us, then what has happened (and what darkness happens to all of us at various times) is a chilling, emotional, uncomfortable, dark chapter in a story being told.
What can we do? We can panic. We can try to figure out the story so that we can have an answer.
I think that is called ‘taking the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.’ To try to unravel the great story is to try and judge if it is good or evil, to judge what IS good or evil; but it comes down to us merely TAKING knowledge to feel peace, to make ourselves.
What we are invited to do is quite different. We are invited to sit and eat, to dine, to be held by the story teller. The author. To feel God breathe in and out. To hear God’s heartbeat.
To know the story teller is good, to trust that the story teller is good, even if the pages of the story paint a picture of the story being evil, of the story teller being malevolent.
God is good.
I do not state this as something I’ve learned, but something I’m learning. To let go of my fear of God proven malevolent, and trusting without any proof, any miracles, any signs and wonders, that GOD IS GOOD.