By Kevin Howell
Here’s some of my reflections from the Tucson, Ariz., shooting tragedy.
During times of inexplicable tragedy, people naturally have questions running through their minds. Whether it’s something we deem natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti, or the recent floods and mudslides in Brazil, or something caused by man, such as the Arizona shooting, we are all looking for answers. Typically, since there are no reasonable answers in the human mind for matters of this magnitude, people tend to question or blame God. And honestly, I can’t fault them for that, because I question God.
It’s difficult not to when a 9-year-old girl, Christina Taylor Green, is killed for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can’t blame God because I know it’s not in His character to cause such a thing, but as far as how it was allowed to happen, I wrestle with understanding the ideas of sovereignty, free will, evil, a fallen world and providence. Truthfully, it’s just too great for my mind to comprehend, and too complex for theologians to surmise. As President Obama put it in his address at the Tucson memorial: “Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.”
The truth is, there are no simple explanations. It’s just something we can’t wrap our limited minds around. With something tragic happens that’s beyond our power, we look to the higher power for comfort, understanding, and unfortunately to place blame. However, it’s ironic that when things are going quite well, in times of prosperity, and when man does exceptional feats, we have simple and acceptable answers. We rarely look above to give credit, nor for explanations. Rather, we heap praise on human accomplishment. We applaud ourselves for our skill, work ethic, mental fortitude, and knowledge, not even considering that the triumph, achievement, joy, or success had something to do with the same One we question during our lowest moments.
I speak of our nation in general, of course, and not every individual. But I believe we all fall into that category in some way. I know I do. Maybe I do thank God during great accomplishments, but in times of peace and happiness, when life is simply wonderful, do I celebrate Him with gratitude as much as I seek Him for assistance when life stings? Unfortunately not.
Therefore, tragedy serves as a lesson for us. It’s a reminder, not just of our finitude, but also of our need to always live in gratitude.