Some days, it is so difficult to listen to the latest news, its stories often confronting us with one more instance of sorrow, loss and challenge.
These past weeks, stories from Newtown, Conn., have been crushing to the heart and the spirit. The terror faced by staff members and students of Sandy Hook Elementary is unimaginable.
And yet, their ordeal risks becoming just one more story of our inhumanity to one another, one too frequently played out all across the nation.
With you, I, too, wish at times like these for a God who steps in to interfere directly, to extend a strong hand that shields the innocent and a mighty thumb that squishes the one who causes such harm. But that isn’t the way God works, according to biblical witness.
God offers us assurance of his caring presence even in the midst of tragedy, not insurance against things that cause harm. The question we rush to ask, wondering how God could allow such things to happen, is better stated as, “How can we keep allowing such things to happen?”
The causes that underlie the Newtown massacre will be manifold, and changes will be necessary throughout a range of important areas, from mental-health screening and treatments, to renewed efforts at commonsense gun-safety laws.
But I found the comments of President Barack Obama to be helpful when he asked why we feel so powerless to make needed changes or so willing to accept tragedies like these as the cost of protecting second-amendment rights for citizens who wish to be armed like a militia.
It’s true that our attitude and behavior regarding guns needs a grand debate in hopes of instigating necessary change, and I say that as a gun owner. I purchased my first shotgun when I was 13 after I completed a gun-safety and hunter-education course in Minnesota.
I support gun ownership as within our constitutional rights to possess and use weapons but as a right that comes with the preconditions of gun-safety training, the use of adequate and lockable storage, gun registration and licensing, including laws that regulate the types of guns that can be owned by civilians, with limits on the size of magazine (bullet) capacity, and even on how guns can be transported. Such rules support basic constitutional rights without becoming repressive.
The truth is, in the wrong hands, guns do kill people, and in America, they kill more than 30 people every day, on average. Imagine a Sandy Hook disaster day after day after day. No community or nation should face such carnage.
If we fail to make changes and enact laws that resemble those of other democratic nations whose populace are far safer than ours, we will only continue to lose our children, our spouses, our neighbors, our friends at a horrendous rate.
Things must change.
Again, instead of simply wondering why God would allow such awful things to happen, we must pause and ask the more personal question:
Why do we?