Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

I feel like I ought to write something about the shootings at Virginia Tech, but I'm honestly not sure what to say. I've been struggling to gather my thoughts on this since it happened.

I was in high school when the Columbine killings occurred, and this event brings back similar memories and feelings. You don't tend to think of schools as being such dangerous places, but then something like this occurs and you wonder, could it happen at my school? What about my students and classmates?

Of course, it doesn't help that my boneheaded students kept making jokes about the shooter going after his TA because of grades. Timing, fellas. Timing.

The other day I was listening to Ravi Zacharias talk about the problem of evil: Why would a good God allow evil and suffering in this world? Such thoughts are bound to be on the minds of both the families of the victims and their supporters as people deal with this.

I don't have a problem being philosophical about this. While people have been rightly criticized for turning the bodies of dead students into a soap box, I agree with Dafyyd that the best balm for an injured soul is rational thought.

I've always thought about this with the argument that the greatest good is only possible when people are free to choose between good and evil. We know what good is because we can compare it to evil. If people were unable to choose evil, then "good" would be meaningless because it would have no value. The words of a robot programmed to say "I love you" are meaningless because there is no depth to those feelings, only a compulsion lacking a will. When a person chooses to say that, then it is a profession of great significance.

So, I can rationalize why God must allow evil to exist in this world. But why did God allow this act of evil to take place? I have no answer for that. The standard response, though it seems trite staring freshly into the face of tragedy, is that God can work good from anything. Deep down, this feels insufficient. "Good? Good?! Where is the good in this? Thirty-three people are dead because someone snapped and you're saying that God can bring good from this?"

I suppose only the perspective that time brings will give clarity to those thoughts. For now, it's enough for me to think like this: God, as the creator of life, does no wrong when he takes a life. From his perspective, life is never really destroyed, only changed. In changing life and circumstances on our level, God is inevitably working towards our best interests, even if that is unclear to us.

That's about it, for now. If you feel like disagreeing with me, feel free to. Or call me a monster for thinking such thoughts two days after the shootings. Either way, the comments are open.

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