The above link is to a story I read today. Two teen girls apparently killed on a trail in Indiana, a rural area outside of Lafayette. I read a lot of news. Some of it is political in nature. A lot deals with the sciences. I am moved by stories where good has happened – where unexpected kindness has somehow entered a bad situation to make things bright for an individual or a community. It is easy to see God in those stories.
But it is much harder to wrestle with stories like this one. And it brings up the very hard questions dealing with “why” and “how could God let this happen?” Questions with answers that seem quite elusive. My heart breaks for the parents. My heart hurts for the community of friends, the school, the stranger that now lives in fear for their own children.
In moments like this I turn to the questions of purpose for lives that are lost like this. We can look to God and say it is his fault. Or we can choose to grapple with the reality of world that is created with certain freedoms that lead to tragedies like this. The perpetrator is off the hook if we blame God. He (or she) is then not culpable for the crime committed – they had no choice since “God made me do it.” Free will is a strange thing. We want it both ways – people free to choose right, but when bad happens, the tendency is to blame God rather than the person who chose to do the hurtful, sinful, thing.
I have walked families through suicides of teens. I have been at the bedside of loved ones near death, filled with regrets. My father ended his own life by a single gun shot in 1998. Each of these tragedies reflect the world of hurt we are in, free agents who freely choose to live their lives, at times those lives intersect in awful, painful, collisions.
And we hurt. We grieve. We grow angry.
From my heart, I want to bring joy where I can. Having walked through those tragic moments, I have seen God uplift, walk lovingly with the broken, and bring hope where it seems the hopelessness is the only reality. It is hard, I know. But I also know that there is a God, revealed in Jesus Christ, that is also really there. Mysteriously.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
He walks closely because it is his creation that is hurting. His heart breaks as well. I am praying for the families and the community that is deeply effected. I pray that the perpetrator(s) will be caught and justice rendered. I also pray that God’s heart will be revealed in tragedy.