The horrific, unconscionable mass shooting yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas has now claimed the lives of at least 19 children and two adults.
We’ve learned that the massacre took place in just one classroom, perpetrated by the mass murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom and started shooting.
He was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent who had responded to the scene and rushed into the school without waiting for backup.
Some of the names, ages and pictures of the victims have been widely shared via media outlets.
There’s Uziyah Garcia, an 8-year-old, whose grandfather Manny Renfro says was “the sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known.”
Photo of Uziyah Garcia. Photo Credit: Fox News
There’s Xavier Lopez, a 10-year-old, who was looking forward to swimming during summer break. “He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, [and] his mom,” his cousin said.
Photo of Xavier Lopez. Photo Credit: Fox News
And there’s Amerie Jo Garza, a 10-year-old, who had just finished celebrating after making the honor roll in her fourth-grade class.
Photo of Amerie Jo Garza. Photo Credit: Fox News
If one pauses to consider the absolute horror that these 19 children experienced – that their innocent lives have been taken in one despicable act of Evil – it’s enough to take your breath away.
It’s incomprehensible. It’s Shocking. Wicked. Tragic. Heartbreaking.
In the midst of this travesty, we all come face to face with the age-old question: Why would an all-good and loving God allow such evil, such pain, such suffering?
It’s a question that Christians have been wrestling with for 2,000 years. And it’s a serious question that deserves a serious response.
Without one, someone is just a step away from doubting God’s existence entirely.
In fact, the Greek philosopher Epicurus claimed that the existence of evil proves that God does not exist.
He taught that if evil exists and God cannot stop it, then he is not all powerful. And if evil exists and God can prevent it, but chooses not to, then he is not all loving.
This problem was summarized by the Enlightenment philosopher David Hume like this: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then from whence comes evil?”
And hence we arrive at the “logical problem of evil.”
Why would an all-powerful, all-good God not prevent the tragedy that unfolded at Uvalde, Texas yesterday?
The short answer is, we don’t know.
And when walking alongside someone suffering, they don’t want an intellectual reply. They need a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
[If you’re suffering and need help, Focus on the Family offers a free, one-time counseling consultation with a licensed or pastoral counselor. To request a counseling consultation, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) or fill out our Counseling Consultation Request Form.]
And yet, the logical problem remains.
Various worldviews try to deal with the problem of evil in different ways.
Fatalism teaches that suffering is inevitable, and therefore we should resign ourselves to it with acceptance and resignation.
Hinduism teaches the principle of karma, that all consequences are derived from past actions. Therefore, if one suffers, it’s their own fault, and they deserve to.
Secularism teaches that suffering has no purpose, and that it cannot be redeemed.
But contra fatalism, Christianity teaches that suffering can be sudden, overwhelming and unbearable.
Contra Hinduism, Christianity teaches that suffering can be unfair, and that bad things sometimes happen to good people, and vice versa. Praise God, however, that isn’t the end of the story. For God “will render to each one according to his works” (Romans 2:6).
Contra secularism, Christianity teaches that suffering can have meaning. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16-17, emphasis added).
The longer answer to the problem of evil necessitates that we look at the cross, on which God Himself was crucified, suffered, and died.
Christianity uniquely offers a resounding reply to the problem of evil. After all, the cross is at the center of the Christian story, where God the Father lost His Son in a tragic death.
We find in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 a recounting of Christ’s sufferings: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (ESV).
Indeed, one of the greatest truths of Christianity is that God Himself came to suffer and die to redeem and restore humanity.
God didn’t leave us to suffer on our own.
We trust in a God who willingly enters the human experience. He voluntarily came to us and chose to suffer with and for us.
Our God is not one who is far off. He is not distant. He is not uncaring or unloving.
Rather, our God has chosen to come so close to us, that he became one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. He experienced our joys. But also our pain, our sorrow and our suffering.
“Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
So, can we know the purpose behind or the reason why God permitted the tragic shooting yesterday at Robb Elementary School? No.
Can we take great hope that our God knows, loves and cares for each and every one of the little children who was killed yesterday? Absolutely.
For God loved, and loves, each of them – so much so that He died for them. He suffered for them.
And that’s a God we can trust in.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
If you’re suffering and need help, Focus on the Family offers a free, one-time counseling consultation with a licensed or pastoral counselor. To request a counseling consultation, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) or fill out our Counseling Consultation Request Form.
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Photo from The Wall Street Journal.