I had already been thinking about writing a blog focusing on the evil of man....and then yesterday happened. The news of the elementary school shooting propelled my mind back to Columbine, September 11th, the sniper shootings, the movie theatre shooting, various shopping mall shootings, and numerous other horrific events that our country has endured. I have a tremendous fear of somehow being involved in a catastrophic act of violence. I know what you're thinking--who doesn't, right? But I think my fear runs deeper.
I was student teaching when Columbine happened and it shook me to the core. I had never allowed my mind to contemplate such an act and when I saw it played out on television I was gripped with terror. What if I couldn't protect my students? What if I wouldn't protect them? What if, when placed in a similar situation, I fought to protect myself instead? My fear made me feel tiny. One little seventh grade boy had seen coverage of the event and from that day forth, spent the school day underneath his desk. If I could have, I would have crawled under there with him, held him, and told him that I understood.
September 11th deepened my fears. I was obsessed with the television coverage to the point that Brent had to intercede and tell me to stop watching. I've feared flying ever since. The fact that I have flown to the Czech Republic and to China is nothing short of a miracle. If I never flew again--I'd be perfectly happy.
I haven't been to a movie theatre since the heinous shooting during the premiere of Batman. What if I was sitting unsuspectingly in the dark when chaos broke out? The thought makes me sweat. It's safer to just stay home, right? I can hide from evil. It won't find me.
When I was thinking about yesterday, I realized that my fears are leading me to dread Satan's power in way that is overshadowing my assurance in God as Victor. This should never be. While many wars have been won for evil in the days past, the ultimate battle is already won. We already know history's ending. We have a Rescuer who will thwart evil and hurl it in to the pit of hell....and yet I still struggle. I really really do.
So, how do I fight against a debilitating fear of man? It helps me to remember that there is a purpose to the heartache felt on earth. I believe that God is slowly removing his hand of grace and boldly showing us our need of him. He wants us to turn to him. To find peace and hope in him. To yearn for his arrival. Yesterday's shooter shows us the version of ourselves when God's hand is not evident. The question shouldn't be: why did this man do this? More appropriately, the question is: why aren't more doing this? It is a wonder that more horrors aren't played out when so many men live depraved lives outside of the Shepherd's care. God has a number. And until that number of souls is claimed, we will continue to mourn over cancer, stillborns, rapes, overdoses and all such atrocities. Evil will not be stomped out until that last precious soul is secured. Is it worth it? I've often wondered. But what if salvation found its way to my presently unbelieving loved ones through this Connecticut tragedy?
Besides remembering that suffering is not arbitrary, I try to blot out the disturbing imagery that I can't stand to watch and yet can't seem to turn away from. I replace them with this image-- that of the arriving aid. Think back to September 11th, or Columbine, or yesterday. What did you see? I saw men in full stride, faces set and teeth clenched, sprinting towards the evil one. What type of person does this? Are they crazy? No. They believe that evil can be stopped. So did Jesus....when he ran towards evil for the sake of saving my life. That's what I think about. Someone always has to run towards evil in order to conquer it. Everyday Jesus runs towards the enemy for me; a soul counted in the number.
In the weeks to come, things will quiet down. The event may slip to the recesses of my mind. I'll begin to forget that there are people in the world who elevate themselves to a God-like status and go out and commit sheer evil. Until the next thing happens. Then, I'll start back on the carousel ride of reminding myself that God is in control. Pain has purpose. Aid is coming. What else can I do?
For those of you who think this world is all there is, where do you find your comfort? No one is coming for you when the ultimate battle begins. But someone wants to. Someone wants to come and get you so passionately that he climbed up on the cross and proceeded to absorb every last shred of evil. Turn your fear into faith. You may struggle, like me, to trust in the sovereignty of God when it seems like evil is presently winning. But the day is coming when all we'll see is Jesus running towards us ready to take us out of darkness. My fears will be slain forever.