When I first opened up Mark Galli’s article on the Colorado theater shooting, I thought his words would feel dated and no longer that applicable, since I had “moved past” the event. You know, the news stops showing photos of panic, you stop thinking about it (mostly because you didn’t want to think about it in the first place), and life goes on.
But his essay wasn’t just another prayer for the victims’ families, not another cry of outrage to God, not another explanation of why bad things happen. Galli drives home what we all should have considered back when the tragedy occurred by widening the scope: this horrible event wasn’t an isolated violent incident in an otherwise perfect world. It was yet another impossible-to-ignore example of just how broken, messed up, and violent our world really is. While we try to rationalize and spiritualize until that troubling fact goes away, we seem to be missing the one question we should be asking: what does this mean for my life as a Christian?
I saw myself in the author’s description of his reaction to the tragedy. First thoughts are of blank shock, then disbelief, then anger, then fear. If I would have been there, what would I have done? If I had lost a loved one, how would I feel? If I carry a gun, can I prevent something like this from happening again? But I never asked God what He thought about the situation, and I never thought about how the existence of evil should shape my Christian life. Do I live in fear because of this? Or can I find a way to walk in faith?
Galli reminds us of the irony of our religion: that the God to whom we bring our grief is also the God who has already worked to bring an end to all suffering, death, and sin. The same God who allowed Lazarus to die and wept at his tomb was also the one who brought him back to life, told him to walk into the sunlight.
Our God is a God who both knows suffering and gives healing. So as Christians, Galli asks, why do we respond to tragedies like everyone else: in fear, confusion, and unfocused anger? Is there a better way to deal with evil, and if so, what is it?
God does have an answer to suffering, if we’re only willing to take it: the peace that comes through knowing and believing in Christ Jesus, the one who suffered and overcame.
As this violent summer slips behind us, Mark Galli’s article is a timely and thought-provoking message with which we can strengthen our souls to face another day in an imperfect world. Click on the link below to go to his column on the Christianity Today webpage.