We had some friends over for lunch today, and I am coming off the high of a really nice conversation (yes, nice) about how Christians are making some dangerous statements about what they believe God is doing when bad things happen. I talked a little bit about this after the Wildfire in Colorado Springs, simply stating that “God is not an asshole.”
So now, here we are, a few weeks later, and it is happening again. The shooting in Aurora is absolutely awful. It was an attack on our humanity, and to think that so many peoples’ lives were forever changed for simply going to a movie…there just are not words for that. My heart aches whenever I think about what it must have been like to experience something so horrifying, and no matter how much time I spend trying to wrap my mind around it, I just can not understand it.
I stayed off Twitter on Friday, anticipating that people would say things that would ultimately cause even more heartache to a situation that was already ugly and full of sadness. Now, having taken a few days, I have to say, we are doing it wrong.
Here is where I have landed: our response to tragedy is to try to find an answer. We look to God for explanations because we can not fathom how something so shocking and awful can happen. That is exactly what we should do. What we shouldn’t do, is speak. Yes. Speak. When we try to put words in God’s mouth, it does damage. Christians keep hurting people, and nothing makes me cringe more than when careless words manipulate the image of Christ. To say that God is judging people, or trying to teach people, or punishing people, and we, those outside of these events, are somehow free of that punishment/judgement/lesson…it is hurtful/arrogant/wrong. We do not know why these things happen, and I think it is incredibly dangerous to pretend like we know the answers. What we know is that a seriously disturbed individual walked into that movie theater with the intention of killing people. Instead of trying to come up with biblical explanations, we should love on the community of Aurora. We should offer prayer, we should offer our love, and we should mourn and grieve with them.
What you shouldn’t say:
“God will do anything to get our attention”
“God must be trying to tell us something”
“This is the world that God gave us”
“God will not give you anything that you can not handle”
“God is judging us”
“There is a spiritual stronghold over Colorado”
“God is angry with Colorado”
etc. etc. etc.
Maybe, there was a time when saying something like that made someone’s heart feel warm and fuzzy inside, but I kind of doubt it. Here is my advice: just shut up. Our job is to love thy neighbor. That is what we are supposed to do. The commentary isn’t necessary or productive. Let’s all admit that we do not know why these awful/tragic/horrifying things happen, but we know that God can bring comfort and peace, and rest for the weary. He brings light to the dark places; He brings hope to the hopeless; He drags us out of the depths of despair and somehow brings joy. That is the God that I serve, and I believe that is where our hearts should be–with those that hurt instead of standing against them.