|Where Was God?
by Rubel Shelly
When the bullets started flying at Columbine High School on Tuesday, April 20, the ugly prejudices of two malevolent hearts began to manifest themselves. Two teen-aged killers began gunning for minorities, athletes, and Christians. People who fit none of the three categories got caught in the crossfire and died too. A school, a community, and a nation were left to mourn the consequences.
Part of the sad irony of what happened is that Cassie Bernall, a 17-year-old junior at Columbine, was once part of a group very much like the one from which her killers came. The leader of her church's youth group says that in middle school Cassie was enamored of witchcraft and the dark side of life. But the gospel broke through her nihilism, and Cassie became a Christian. She had a "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelet on her backpack and typically carried her Bible to school with her.
According to her aunt, Kayleen Bernall, even Cassie's beautiful blonde hair had been dedicated to God's glory. She was planning to cut it short soon and donate it for making hairpieces for kids going through chemotherapy.
When the two gunmen went into the library on that fateful Tuesday, one of them asked her, "Do you believe in God?" She answered, "Yes, I believe in God." And Cassie was shot dead on the spot.
In a public discussion I was having with an atheist that same week, he demanded to know, "Where was God when all those kids were being killed?" His emotion-laden question was designed to say that a powerful and loving God -- if such a being existed -- would not stand by and allow such a thing in his world.
The truth is that God has created human beings with real rather than illusory freedom. We can choose to do wrong as well as good. That is why "virtue" and "evil" are meaningful words. We don't do right things or pursue evil ends because God writes unalterable scripts for our lives. We make unforced choices.
A Holocaust survivor whose suspicion about God's existence haunted him for fifty years, Elie Wiesel eventually wrote this to God: "At one point, I began wondering whether I was not unfair with you. After all, Auschwitz was not something that came down ready-made from heaven. It was conceived by men, implemented by men, staffed by men. And their aim was to destroy not only us but you as well. Ought we not to think of your pain, too? Watching your children suffer at the hands of your other children, haven't you also suffered?"
In case you have wondered where God was on that terrible Tuesday in Colorado, now you know. He was suffering with the dying, injured, and grieving. Just as he did on Calvary. Just as he will until all things are made new at his return.
From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life"