When Tragedy Strikes

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About 300,000 people die every day in the world.  About 7,000 in the US.  That’s about 290 per hour.  27 people die in the US about every two hours.  So, why did last week’s outré and bizarre events penetrate us as they did?

Six months into one of our church plants we had a six year old girl die from spinal meningitis.

From the time she told her mother she had a headache to the time she died was just four hours.  It was Good Friday.  It was going to be our first Easter as a church and we were planning a fantastic resurrection celebration.  Cerebrally we knew she was safe in – as Elisabeth Elliot used to say – the Everlasting Arms.  Viscerally, however, our little band was in shock and grief.  That Easter Sunday we sang all of the appropriate songs that relate to the core of our faith, but these two young parents (twenty something) could not be consoled.  Frankly, I was as empty as last year’s bird’s nest.

Every pastor I’ve spoken to after the shootings in Newtown, CT had a larger than normal crowd the next Sunday.

We did.  Everyone wanted answers that I either didn’t have or they didn’t want to hear.

Lots of tears shed…  They were looking for two things; someone to blame, and someone to punish.  The lack of these two possibilities produced an emptiness of heart for many.  I have a seven year old grandson who looks much like those upper middle class kids in Newtown.  I wish I could have gotten a peek at John Piper’s sermon notes before I spoke this week, but it doesn’t work that way, does it?  I’m a seasoned veteran who grasps the concepts of the sovereignty of God and the reality of the consequences of the Fall.  Not so for the newest and youngest among us, however.  As we process the events of last week we shall as James (4:8) says, Draw near to God and He will draw near to us.”

Immanuel Kant wrote, “Man is made of such crooked stuff that it is impossible to set him straight.”  Kant was wrong.  God is in the business of making crooked men straight.