You no doubt have heard of the shooting in an Aurora Colorado theater this past Friday morning. It has been the topic of endless news releases and speculation as to just why an apparently quiet, intelligent and well adjusted individual would plot and execute such a grisly mass killing. And, as of yet, no one other than the shooter seems to have any idea as to his motives.
But there is another question concerning this event that some are asking: why would a loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God allow such a tragedy to occur. If there is such a God, why would he not have acted to prevent this from occurring? And I believe it is a valid question, although one with no easy answer.
It is probably worthwhile to affirm that I do believe in God: a God who is omnipotent; who is omniscient; and who cares about his creation. It is probably also worthwhile to affirm that I do not accept the idea of God as being omni-benevolent. I find the idea that God wants everyone in this world to be healthy, wealthy and happy to be contrary to the image I have of God and his purpose in creation.
If God is omniscient, or all-knowing, then at the time of creation he already knew that shortly after midnight on July 20th, 2012, that James Holmes would open fire on movie goers in Aurora Colorado, killing 12 and injuring 58. And he would also know how that shooting could have been prevented. And if God is also omnipotent, or all powerful, then he would have been able to act on his knowledge to prevent this atrocity from occurring. So why did he allow this to occur? And by inference, all of the other tragedies that this world has seen and that have caused so much suffering and death?
There are many answers that people give to these questions, ranging from their being proof of God’s non-existence, to God has a purpose in allowing it, to God actually instigated it to deal with some problem. But none of those answers satisfy me; and it may be that it is not really possible to provide a satisfactory answer to the question without knowing the mind of God, something that at best we have in a limited amount.
The only answer that comes close to resolving the issue for me lies in my understanding of how God works in this world. I am not a deist, one who believes that God created everything and then went on vacation and has no involvement in the how the world functions. But I do believe that God created a universe that is basically self sustaining, regulated by laws and process that do not require his daily involvement to ensure that the earth continues to revolve and rotate; that flowers sprout, bloom and reproduce; or that weather systems function around the globe. And that he has also granted to humanity a certain amount of self determination; allowing us to make real choices. Sometimes those choices are good, and sometimes not so very good.
I also believe God is more concerned about the end of our journey through this life than he is with the journey itself. If my future is an eternity with him, accomplishing whatever task he has for me to do, then what real difference does it make whether I had a little or a lot in this world? What difference does it make if I lived a long and healthy life, or was cut down in my prime by disease, murder, or natural disaster? What difference do any of the happenings of this life make, so long as I faithfully walk through it all with my creator?
And for those who have no eternal future; again, what difference does it make. It is not as though God owes them anything. Nor, after facing destruction, will it make any difference how much they had in this life or how good they had it. When they are gone, they are gone and what happened here is irrelevant.
If you are thinking that it sounds like I am saying that God does not care, I would have to agree with you to some extent. I do believe he cares, but has chosen to not interfere with the natural mechanisms of our world, whether they be earthquakes, hurricanes or disease. Nor do I believe he interferes with our ability to make choices, even ones as horrific as choosing to walk into a theater and shoot as many people as possible.
What God really does care about is if I choose to trust him with my life and in the storms of life. Will I trust him when life doesn’t make sense? Will I trust him when I am in pain? Will I trust him when all is going well and I can see no advantage in trusting him? Will I trust him even when many around me say it is foolish to do so?