33 Killed at Virginia Tech: Other People’s Craziness

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If you watch the news, I’m sure that you are saddened and angered over the evil, cold-blooded murders at Virginia Tech. Our hearts go out to every parent, family member and friend who lost a loved one so suddenly and so horrifically. Our hearts also go out to every student and young adult across the country who is coming of age in such a difficult culture. We pray for you.

This event gives me extra motivation for the current series of messages that I’m preaching at Neighborhood Church: Living Large with O.P.C.* (Other People’s Craziness). Based on Esther. How do you handle OPC? [click here… sermons are posted on Thursday]

  • On September 11, 2001, terrorists crashed airplanes into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. On one other plane, heroic men and women took over and made the horrific decision to save lives by bringing it down. Thousands of lives snuffed out in an instant. A heartbreaking, maddening evil.
  • On December 24, 2004, a 30-foot wall of water slammed into 4,000 miles of shoreline–a tsunami that killed over 200,000 people. A heartbreaking, maddening disaster.
  • On April 16, 2007, a lone gunman walked onto the Virginia Tech Campus and in cold blood murdered 33 innocent people. Another heartbreaking, maddening disaster.

Is there any way to frame these disasters–and so many others–so that they make sense?

At one level, NO. Because sin–the root cause of all evil and all calamity in the world–is insanity. It has no logic. It doesn’t make sense and it’s a waste of time to try to make sense of it. You can’t make insanity sound sane. Yet that’s exactly what the news stories will try to do over the coming weeks. “How can we make sense of this?” You can’t.

Does that mean we live in an absurd universe?

No. Because at another level, we can make sense of these things if we understand God. Here is part of the message I preached on the weekend after the tsunami:

“You have to understand something about God. God is always perfectly at peace. His tranquillity is never disturbed. His day is never spoiled. And all the fumings and fussings of nations, in their supposed power, is not even a blip on the radar as it pertains to the happiness of God. The throne room of God is nothing but pure, unalterable, peace in the presence of God.

“But does that mean that God is unmoved by our sufferings? No. The Bible says God is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Heb 4:15). What would we have seen if we could have stood in the throne room of God December 24, 2004 when a 30 foot wall of water slammed into 4,000 miles of shoreline?

  • We would have seen the grief of God over human suffering and heartbreak. He is the Father of all mercies, and the God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3).
  • We would have seen the justice of God dealing out perfect fairness, perfect opportunity to come to Christ, to each and every single individual involved. (“Mighty king, lover of justice, you have established fairness. You have acted with justice and righteousness throughout Israel.” Psalms 99:4, NLT.)
  • We would have seen the grace of God as he dispensed every resource, every strength, every special touch to every human who was willing to receive it, for his grace is sufficient for us (2 Co 12:9).
  • We would have seen the sovereignty of God already in the process of taking evil and turning it around for good (Gen 50:20).
  • We would have seen the security of God, in that not even the concentrated evil of the world could frighten him: “The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from this slavery.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.” Psalms 2:2-4, NLT.

“In all of this, God would not have been perplexed. God would not have been dismayed or disturbed. He would not have lost his peace, his confidence, his power, his composure. He did not wring his hands. He was not surprised. And he is not dismayed.

“That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care; he does care deeply. If you have any questions about whether or not God cares, look at Jesus. Especially at his horrific death. God was not content to stay distant from human suffering. But he entered into it in full, and redeemed it, and gave it a meaning that will far outlast this universe and all its stars and galaxies.”

Two thoughts:

  1. Suffering and pain are only compounded by our artificial temporal perspective. If we could see as God sees–from the vantage point of eternity–suffering and pain would look radically different. God sees a value and reward that we can only grab hold of by faith. I don’t want to minimize our pain; I just want to put a different frame around it.
    • “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” 2 Corinthians 4:17, NKJV.

  2. The world’s problems are spiritual and require spiritual solutions. You watch how this shooting will renew calls for gun control. Or for tighter security on campuses. Or how they will blame the school administration. Okay, fine. Still won’t solve the problem. The only solution is CHANGED HEARTS. And that can only come through the GOSPEL–the message of Jesus Christ and the salvation he brings. Instead of wringing our hands, let’s redouble our efforts to bring the truth and love of Jesus to our friends and family who have not yet received him.
    • “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16, NKJV.

KSTE radio (Sacramento talk radio) had an interview with three ex-terrorists (www.3xterrorists.com). Their story was AMAZING. Each one had been a radical Islamic terrorist. Each one had been committed to the destruction of America and Israel. Each one had killed in his quest for jihad. And each one had been totally transformed by Jesus.

They told their stories of how they met Christians who treated them with kindness and respect. Christians who didn’t fit the mold of their expectations. And how gradually, they started reading the Bible and met Jesus. And he totally changed their lives.

Now they write and speak at universities–against all obstacles. They spoke at Stanford last night, though the administration fought them at every step.

Think of how many people are alive today because the POWER OF JESUS AND HIS GOSPEL radically transformed these three lives.

We cannot change people’s lives through programs. Or through legislation. Or through government. Or through warfare. Or through throwing money at social problems. It is the proper and legitimate function of government to do these things. But we do NOT expect government to really change people’s lives for the better.

And the CHURCH has a part to play, too. We should be involved in lifting people from despair. Meeting their tangible needs. Feeding. Clothing. Educating. And we do those things. But it is not enough…

It takes the GOSPEL of Jesus, clearly taught AND lovingly incarnated by followers of Jesus. That alone has the power to stop cold even one lone gunman.

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4 thoughts on “33 Killed at Virginia Tech: Other People’s Craziness

  1. Thank you so much, Dr. G. for this terrific explanation to the age-old question of why does God allow all this suffering in the world. I, too, will share your wisdom with others, if you don’t mind.

  2. Please feel free to share any part of this if you think it will be helpful. Thanks for your kindness and encouraging words.
    Bill

  3. Pingback: Shootings at Northern Illinois University « maxgrace.com

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