Where was God in the Connecticut School Shooting?

Connecticut_candlesYet another school shooting has resulted in the loss of innocent lives in America and now questions are being asked: Where was God? Why didn’t God stop this? Why didn’t God protect the lives of those 20 children?

For a grieving parent, these are normal questions. When you have suffered the greatest loss any human can suffer it is perfectly understandable to scream, Why??? Death is awful. It is an enemy. I hate it and God hates it.

I hesitate to write this because many are using this latest tragedy as an opportunity to grandstand and advance their particular causes. We need fewer guns. We need more prayer. We need to turn back to God and stop abortions.

Causes have their place but in a week when families are burying their children, this is not the time. But the questions aren’t going away.  Loud men with agendas are shouting at us. God is judging America! We need to repent! We need to legislate the kingdom of God into existence!

So how should we respond to these loud men?

Well I usually respond to foolishness by ignoring it. But this morning someone “new to grace teaching” wrote to me and asked for my opinion. So here it is:

1. Is God judging America?

No.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is unacquainted with the gospel. The sins of America, along with the sins of every other nation, were judged at the cross. If Christ’s death was a sufficient sacrifice for our sins – and it was (see Heb. 10:12) – then God cannot judge America for her sins. It would be unjust for God to judge the same sin twice.

(What of Judgment Day? That’s when we’ll reap the eternal consequences of our choice to trust or reject Christ and his perfect sacrifice.)

When an earthquake flattened my hometown last year, some said God was judging Christchurch for its sins. Well by that logic God should have wiped America off the face of the map because the sins of a city are few in comparison to the sins of a superpower. I’ll say now what I said then: The cross – not earthquakes (or massacres) – is God’s remedy for sin.

The sins of America were forgiven or done away with long before the Mayflower Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock (see Heb 9:26). Sin certainly has destructive consequences, as we have just seen in Connecticut, but divine judgment is not one of them (see Is. 54:9-10). Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

2. Whose fault was it?

Not God’s.

The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man. (Psa 115:16)

God gave us this planet and we are responsible for much of what happens. Who first sinned and opened the door to death? It wasn’t God and it wasn’t Satan. It was one of us (Rom 5:12).

Some are now saying that we let Satan into our schools when we took the prayer out. Actually, Satan’s been messing with us a lot longer than that. His evil influence goes all the way back to the Garden. But Satan could not have influenced us if we had not listened to his lies.

The blame game isn’t helpful, but if you must point the finger, blame Adam, whose decision to reject God brought death to us all, or blame his offspring, who built a civilization on violence (Gen 6:13).

3. What did we do to deserve this?

Nothing.

When bad things happen we tend to wonder, What did I do to deserve this? Understand that this is the flesh talking. It’s Job sitting in the ashes examining his navel for unconfessed sin. I’m pretty sure I’ve been good, yet I’ve lost everything so maybe I wasn’t. But I’m sure I was. I don’t know what to think!

The flesh is a score-keeper. When good things happen, it’s because we’ve been good. So when bad things happen, we must’ve been bad. Some call it karma but like all manmade religion it is fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Two-thousand years ago a tower collapsed killing eighteen people. This tragedy led Jesus to pose a question to the religious-minded folk of his day, “Do you think those who died were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no!” (Luk 13:4-5).

Sometimes people die because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Had those 20 children done anything deserving of death? Of course not. There is no lesson here. No moral. No “avoid this next time.” All we can take from this, said Jesus, is that death comes to us all. So repent, and come to him for new life!

4.  Why didn’t God stop this from happening?

He couldn’t – not without violating us.

I know this will come as something of a shock, but God doesn’t always get what he wants. He is not willing that any perish, yet people perish. God could intervene but he restrains himself on account of love.

Consider: The greatest massacre in history happened when Adam ate from the forbidden tree. Adam’s act condemned the human race to death and God did nothing to stop it. Was it God’s will for Adam to eat? No. Yet Adam ate.  Was it God’s will for Adam Lanza to go to that school? No. Yet Adam went.

Free will is a powerful thing! With it we can choose life or death and Almighty God won’t stop us. In giving us the freedom to choose knowing that he would have to come and die to remedy our choices, God was saying that he would rather die than live without us.

At funerals this week mourners may hear that God gives and takes away but it’s just not true. God gives without ever changing his mind (Rom 11:29).

5. Has God left the building?

No.

The question, “Where was God?” implies that God is not here. He skipped town when we stopped prayer in schools or when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade. “We’re sinners and God doesn’t want anything to do with us.” Such thinking usually leads to a long list of things we must do to fix the problem.

What a deception! God did not leave us; we left him. “Adam, where are you?” (Gen 3:9).

God didn’t reject Adam; Adam rejected God. Even after Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden God went with them – he didn’t abandon them. We know this because their kids were familiar with God’s voice.

The story of our species is one of unrequited love. God made us for love but we spurned him. Since then he has waited for the prodigal to come to his senses and return home.

6. How should we respond?

With love and grace.

This tragedy in Connecticut did not happen because God stopped loving us or caring for us. Neither did it happen because our religious performance is not what it could be. It happened because a certain individual made an awful choice.

What should we do in response? This week we should weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. We should ache and hurt and cry because the world is a place where children die from bullets and poverty. We should pray for the families of Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel D’Avino, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Nancy Lanza, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, and Allison Wyatt. Pray that in this dark night they might somehow know the comfort of God.

And when the time of mourning has passed we should get up and carry on with the one and only task Jesus has given us – that of proclaiming the good news of his kingdom. We should provide a broken world with a prophetic picture of the age to come – the age where justice reigns and heaven and earth are one. Darkness only persists because the light does not shine, so shine.

The answer to violence is not to stick the Ten Commandments back in the courthouses or build higher walls. For the children of God, these are inferior choices. What this sick and dying world needs most is a revelation of God with us.

God is not opposed to us. He loves us warts and all. While we were sinners he died for us and he now lives for us. What America and every other nation needs is a revelation of God’s limitless love. They need to see Jesus.

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Related posts:
- Does God use correction fluid?
- 1 Peter 4:17 – It’s judgment time!
- Forsaking your first love: What was the Ephesian’s problem?

Comments

  1. Linda Cooney says:

    Hello Paul .. Thankyou for this post. All I can say is this week I have seen the face of God and heard his voice through the father of Emeila Parker one of the children killed in this tragedy. His name is Robbie Parker if you look this up on the Internet you will see him It’s grace with a face, a heart, tears and a forgiveness I have never experienced in my entire life.

  2. As the representatives of the Kingdom on the earth, I wondered what should we have done, what should we do and what should we do in future. Not as condemning to anyone but to recognize that we, the ekklesia, are to carry on Jesus work of destroying the works of the enemy.
    I believe Holy Spirit lead me to consider the “butterfly effect” in Kingdom of Papa on the earth. (Matt 13:33 updated)
    Perhaps anytime we do what HS is doing we allow a Kingdom effect which may not be immediately evident. I have heard many stories of people having words of knowledge to complete strangers which resulted in the person not committing suicide or not giving totally up or …. I submit that acts of love be they a smile, a hug, a word of knowledge, a natural or super natural interaction — any outreach from the Kingdom creates a change, a ripple for the Kingdom. I submit that there are times now and will be increasing times when we, the representatives of the Kingdom, do a simple or complex act and the ripple there of will be destruction of a plan of the enemy. We will never know until we are in Papa’s complete presence how many deaths, thefts, acts of destruction are being cut off by our Kingdom butterfly effect.
    It causes me to strive to know His love for every man, woman and child on this earth and then to pour out that love in whatever way I can. A smile, a hug, a word, an ear, a healing, use of supernatural power. Whatever HS is leading with.

  3. Beau Garrett says:

    Paul,

    Thanks for writing this, helps to keep things in perspective.

  4. Well said, Paul. I have found that in times of senseless acts we tend to blame God because at least that is an answer to our unanswerable questions. Since there is no logical answer, it’s just easier to shift the blame to God. Thank you for writing a good piece on this senseless tragedy. Blessings.

  5. NIce job Paul. Thank you for such a thoughtful, Biblical response.

  6. Great yet sensitive post Paul.

  7. This is the absolute truth! Another way of saying it would be, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him!!!!!”

  8. Thanks, Paul! I appreciate your word on this!

  9. The problem I have is that it is always the INNOCENT that suffer the most in this world. IF there was NO evil agent at work
    then it is my thinking that the EVIL people would suffer at least as much,some of the time..that never happens does it?

    • sometimes it seems that way doesn’t it? but satan is always trying to thwart God’s plans… recall all the baby boys that were killed by pharaoh… and king herod. (i had to do a double take when i read that one of the little boys was from a little town nearby called bethlehem!)
      people see and remember evil, because in a tragedy like this, it is so blatantly obvious… we must call it what it is, but we mustn’t get overwhelmed by or place our focus on evil because it is from the wrong tree. as believers we are called to eat from the Tree of Life – to focus on Christ… the kingdom of God and His righteousness… the things that are above. when we eat from the Tree of Life, we see how God WAS present and DID intervene… stories that are only starting to be told: how the one little girl from the class survived… the teachers that prayed protection over children huddled in closets… the next classroom that was “mysteriously” skipped over… these are the things that testify of His goodness and glorify His name!
      we mourn and we lift the families up in prayer during this time of sorrow… letting the love and light of Christ shine through us that brings beauty from ashes… joy from sorrow… healing from brokenness… and Life from death!

  10. Joanne Beasley says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Paul! Best response to that question I’ve read so far. :)

  11. physhbourne says:

    praying and compassion are definitely necessary – yet changing economical and political structures which leads to such problems should be mandatory…

  12. Wonderful perspective, I pray in agreement with you that all nations of the earth will have a revelation of God through Jesus Christ His Son.

  13. Amen!

  14. Under number 4. Why didn’t God stop this from happening? You say that God couldn’t stop this or else he would be violating us. If this is true..they why ever pray for God’s protection? Or ask him to protect our children as they go about their day. If in fact..God stepping in and stopping a horrible act is violating us..then why ask him at all? When my daughter was in the 9th grade a boy was found in her school with a gun and ammo. He had a list on him and my child’s name was on that list. Every day since my kids have started school I’ve prayed for the Lord to protect them and their schools. I’ve specifically asked the Lord to keep them from school shootings. Now, I’m not saying that my prayers alone stopped this (maybe they did, I dunno) but all I know is that someone wanted to kill my child and they were stopped.

    • Angela, my point is that God doesn’t always get what he wants. It was not his will for Adam to eat from the forbidden tree, but Adam ate. What happened to humanity was Adam’s fault, not God’s.

      The question “Why didn’t God stop this?” is usually asked in such a way to imply that bad things are God’s fault. “He could’ve stopped the Holocaust, but he didn’t, therefore the Holocaust was God’s fault.” This is the view of the God-is-sovereign-and-therefore-responsible-for-everything-that-happens camp, but I strenuously disagree.

      I have written about this more in a post entitled, “Is God sovereign?

    • God can provide protection from harm for us without violating the free-will of the sinner. I think that God can put up obstacles to impede evil but He won’t puppet-master a person into doing or not doing something.
      Sin has consequences unfortnately those consequences do not always effect the sinner alone. It spills out and harms others.

    • HI Angela
      God is in control of all things , and has always had a plan for man even before the universe was created. He wants a people that know that he loves them not because of what they do but because of who he is Jesus was the only way to achieve this, in Gethsemane Jesus asked if there be any other way but not my will but your will be done. You see there was no other way. God loves you unconditionally he hears not only your prayers but every word you speak,He is in control of all things not even a sparrow dies without him knowing. He does love you unconditionally ,he wants you to believe his promise of life to you . He wants you to understand that this life is not really life at all. He wants you to rest in his promise , he delights in keeping his promises.He wants you to have Faith that nothing in this life can beat you not even death.

      The question he will be continually asking you is do you trust me.

      From your comment it is obvious that you trust him .

      God Bless.

      • Hi Chris,
        God is sovereign, but He is not in control of all things, and His will does not always come to pass. If He were meticulously “in control of all things,” then He would be culpable for all the evil in our world. I know you don’t mean to, but you actually impugn God’s character when you say “God is control of all things.” That well intentioned statement is probably responsible for more people hating God than any other lie from the pit of hell. And, I don’t think saying God could have intervened, but didn’t, is any better. Instead of asking God why He didn’t do something? we all need to ask, why we didn’t? After all, God gave us the earth, He gave us dominion over the earth, it’s our responsibility. The evil in our world stems from the fall or Satan and his demons. The heinous act of Lanza, and others like him, result from the influence of demonic spirits; it could have been Satan himself that influenced Lanza. Ephesians 6:10 (ERV), “Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.” There is an ongoing spiritual war between good and evil. Jesus Christ defeated Satan on the Cross at Golgotha. It’s incumbent on Christians today to enforce His Blood bought victory on earth. Angela, through her prayers, engages the enemy, and protects her children. Something we should all do.
        Shalom,
        Hoagy

      • Hoagy, you are right on!. It is good to seem some truth presented so well. Thank you.

  15. Hi Paul,
    I follow this site regularly and I am blessed with revelation of Grace. I do understand the concept of earth being given to humans and heard that it is the the reason why GOD will not intervene unless we give him legal right to act on the earth. That is the reason why we pray and ask GOD to involve. After we pray GOD has got legal right to involve. I am asking below points with true heart to understand..

    P1 I see in many places in the bible GOD killing enemies of Israel directly …God involved?
    P2 I see GOD saving (from harm in bible) some people with out a prayer or petiton…
    P3 I heard many testimonies(now) in which GOD revealing things and protecting them from harm…

    These points do not compute the statement that GOD do not involve. I am not asking this to bring up a discussion rather to understand and be helped.

    • I knew when I wrote point 4 that I was opening a can of worms! Venkat, these are pretty big questions that go far beyond the scope of this post. Just to clarify, I did not say God never gets involved. At Christmas we celebrate God getting involved! The fact is, God does intervene – he intervened in my life and yours.

      Here’s the point: Those who ask, “Why didn’t God stop this from happening?” are usually coming from the perspective that God is sovereign and that he is therefore responsible for everything that happens. I disagree with this view. To some extent, we are sovereign in our own lives. We decide, we act, and God lets it happen even when it flat out contradicts his will. This is why the picture in Revelation of the elders throwing down their crowns is so neat. That’s a picture of a follower of Jesus. We have thrown our crowns at his feet saying, “Not my will but yours be done.” I’m pretty certain Adam Lanza didn’t live this way.

  16. amen paul!!! wonderful. this post almost made me cry… sooooo amen!!! soooo blessed! :) Thank yuo for posting. Praise GOD!

  17. Thanks for the insight.You kind- of-get lost when such tragedy happens.

  18. Paul Nathan says:

    Hi Paul,

    The Word of God is clear – “whatever a man sows he will reap & God cannot be mocked!”.There are consequences for disobedience and not acknowledging HIM and HIS ways. Evil will surely visit those who walk in darkness and disobedience unto HIM even if it be out of ignorance of what Christ has done.

    God doesn’t have to judge and mete out consequences since these are intrinsically inbuilt into the spiritual rule of the universe. Hence for those who disobey and not walk in accordance with His commandments, the consequences would surely come.There are enough biblical evidences and truths to these.

    Sickness, premature death, poverty, murder, rape, divorce etc etc are all evidences of manifestation of evil that Jesus has destroyed.

    What happened at Connecticut was evil through and through, and why did this happen? All we can clearly say is for those who are outside of the covering of God through Christ Jesus can and will be exposed to all kinds of evil.

    We know the angels of God encamps around those who fear HIM and delivers them.

    Now, not all who call on HIM as Lord are walking in accordance with HIS Word and living in a life honoring HIM. Many go to church and believe they are Christians but only the Lord knows who are those who are outside of His Kingdom.

    Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary needs to be received, accepted, honored, pursued and lived out – unless this is done, slavery will continue along with all kinds of evils that is associated with it.

    Hence I would respectfully and loving suggest that the whole truth from the Word is considered in responding to these questions.

    God Bless

  19. I think Paul Nathan was making several points so I’m not exactly sure what his correction was either. But in one sentence just comment on this quote he made: “whatever a man sows he will reap & God cannot be mocked” in light of this situation. I wouldn’t correct you with this scripture but please shed some light on it.

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