Obviously the events at Virginia Tech are on the minds of everyone in the nation, and Jeremy and I are no different. We were not sure how to go about expressing our thoughts and feelings, and have taken several days to assemble them together via email. What follows are our insights pertaining to the event… it goes without saying that our thoughts and prayers are with Virginia Tech, and so what follows has little to do with well wishes and more to do with how we each dealt with the situation.
Jeremy: Monday as I was walking into our local grocery store (Ingles), I had been watching the news about the shootings at Virginia Tech and it was heavy on me. It was weighing on my mind and I was thinking about the aftermath of this tragedy and how it might affect everyone. One of the first things that popped in my head was "People are probably going to blame God and ask the default tragedy question: Why would God let this happen?" so I felt like asking God that question. "Why would you let this happen?" Because He loves us.
What?! Letting people kill people seems like the opposite of love. A loving God would protect us. I don't really know how to explain it, but when God created us he knew the only way for us to be truly happy was to give us our own will, and freedom to do as we choose as far as He would let us go. How could He be a loving God if He controlled our every action and did not give us free will? What’s troubling is that our own will is exactly that, and it usually desires to please itself. God wants us to worship Him, which is often the opposite of a self pleasing will. He knew this would happen when he created us and yet, He still did. I have no answer for that, but I'm not going to complain about the opportunity to have a life.
Back to the point: God so loves that He gave us our own will even though we will use that will for evil and hatred towards Him. This is the same selfish will that causes people to self satisfy their life by putting them first.....sometimes that means killing other people. If only they knew the most self satisfying action is to give your will completely to the devotion of glorifying God.
Adam: You know my wife's brother attends Virginia Tech and I have countless friends who have graduated from the school, so when I heard the news I was concerned, worried, shocked, sad, disillusioned, and many other adjectives that I can't come to grips with at this moment. As the news broke my family had no idea if our relatives and friends were safe; which caused chaos in my life, but as I learned that those I loved and cared for were safe I began to think about what, if anything, I could do. Prayer was obviously something I had been doing since the news broke, but as the day wore on I began to search for something more tangible, and so I began to think, do we need gun control? Is there something wrong with our society? Both of these questions were pertinent and both should be discussed in the future, but the problem I came back to was me!
I literally found myself crying in my state van on the way back from Nottoway County as I realized that I had caused the death of more than thirty people. Did I give someone a gun? Did I pull a trigger? Did have anything physically to do with this incident? No, but maybe that is my greatest sin. Jesus Christ taught that the two greatest commandments are to Love God with all you have and to Love Others as yourself, and seriously I think I have fallen short. More importantly I think most people who claim to follow Christ have fallen short. We claim we love God, but we have ignored the hungry and the cold; those who are unloved and forgotten; we have become more preoccupied with our buildings and our lives than we have with people God loves, with the people who need hope.
In another place in the Bible Jesus teaches about the final judgment; He teaches that there will be many people who feel like they should spend eternity in Heaven because the said pretty things and preached pretty sermons in Christ name, but He will say that He never knew them, obviously they will be dismayed and Jesus tells them that when he was hungry, naked, sick and alone they ignored Him, and they will say “but we never saw you this way” and He will say "What you do to the least of these you do to me." What He is saying is that the world is full of people who are cold, hungry, naked, sick, alone and hopeless; and those who truly follow Him will be the ones who meet these peoples needs, the ones who give people hope! So I will repeat what I cried to my Lord in the van yesterday...
I am sorry!
I am sorry that I have not loved, I am sorry that I have not shared my hope. There is no solution to the problems in this world. The world is really without hope... the Lord says that one day the whole thing will be destroyed and replaced by a new Heaven and new Earth. Obviously that does not bode well for this planet, but that doesn't mean that those of us who live on it are without hope, no, Jesus Christ came and sacrificed Himself as God and Man on the Cross so that everyone may have hope. A hope of a life filled with purpose, love and joy. Hope of an eternity in the awesome presence of God. A Hope for the end of the pain and the suffering of this world. I work in Petersburg VA, a desolate, crime and poverty ridden city, and everyday I drive down Washington and Wythe streets in the heart of the city and every day I see the most amazing sight... literally dozens and dozens of Churches, and ministries line the streets. And I ask why? Why are they there? What is the point of having a church or ministry when the people next door can’t pay the rent, and the girl on the corner has turned to prostitution, and a boy down the alley just got shot while dealing drugs? Why even exist if people are living under bridges, drinking away their pain, and waiting for HIV to kill them? Christians have failed! These people, all people, WANT HOPE and these churches and ministries have not given it to them; more importantly we have not given it to them. I could rant for days about the modern church and its worthlessness but instead I will just say... I am sorry.
I have to man up and say that the faith I represent is letting people down. Why can’t we love people why won’t we give them hope? I am no free love hippie, I don’t thing giving out hugs will cure the world of its ills, but I do think that loving the people God loves can stop people from walking into schools and killing innocent boys and girls... and I do think that giving people hope can break them of addiction and stop the cycle of poverty and pain... I think there is a God mightier than all the woes of this earth and I think if we are faithful to Him we can see this world changed, and I will never again have to say I am sorry when more than thirty people are killed by a man who had lost all hope.
Jeremy: Word. I think you have more hope for this world than I do. I confess that I have convinced myself that this world is hopeless and although I may try to reach out, I do so with the grief that my efforts are not going to change the world. I feel like the world has gotten so far from the cross that there is no turning back, and I wish Jesus would just come back and make everything right. Or maybe God could go back on his word and send another flood. Your hope is encouraging, but I will probably always struggle with the fact that I’m hopeless for the world. Don't get me wrong, my personal hope for my future and the future of my wife is based solely on the fact that we have accepted the grace of God and His salvation.....but as for the world....I know God can do miracles, but I feel the world is hopeless. So it’s almost out of sheer discipline that I do the work of the kingdom with the thought that it probably won’t change the world, but at least maybe it will just help this one person. "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land..."
Adam: Man I am sorry to hear you say that , and I hope that you change your mind and take the Lord seriously when He taught us to pray; “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Let the will of God be done on earth, and let us strive for the Kingdom.