On April 20, 1999, 15 people were killed in Littleton, Colorado at Columbine High School. I was 16 years old, and I remember sitting on the couch in my parents sun room for hours watching the footage unfold. I was terrified, angry, sad, and confused. It was all consuming for me. I had so many questions, and sadly there were few if any real answers. I don't believe I was a Christian yet, but at the same time, I was very much aware that God existed. Maybe I questioned why he would have allowed this to happen, or maybe I just sat there stunned. I honestly can't remember, but I do remember being glued to the television. But no matter how much footage I watched, I still just didn't understand.
My hunt for understanding lasted for days; I would come home from school and put the news on. I remember feeling the uncertainty and anxiety in my body. But still, no good answers were ever given. Nothing of it made sense. Eventually life got back to normal. The following October I got my license, entered my junior year of high school, and enjoyed being a teenager.
As the years rolled on, other school shootings started making the news. In 2006, 5 Amish girls in Nickel Mines Pennsylvania were killed, the shooting at Virgina Tech in 2006, where 33 people were killed, 20 first graders were killed along with 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, in 2015, 10 people were killed in Roseburg, Oregon, 17 were killed in Parkland, Florida in 2018, 10 in Santa Fe, Texas in May of 2018. This is a snapshot, as there are many more. Not to mention the mass shootings that have taken place elsewhere.
I list them all out as a reminder, not simply to point out the problem, but to awaken my own soul to the horror of how sin and evil is just ravaging our world. Life has gone on after every single one of these shootings, and life will continue to go on. What is frustrating me is that with each one, I continue to grow more and more curiously numb.
In the last two weeks, our newsfeeds have shown us 32 lives that have been taken, 10 in Buffalo and 22 in Texas. I was saddened by the Buffalo shooting, but truth be told, life went on. And last night, when I heard about the shooting that took place in Texas as I was getting ready to drive my son to his first band concert, I stopped for a minute, but life still went on. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am wrestling right now as I process all of these feelings, especially as I view them through the lens of the pride I felt for my son last night as he played his trombone and performed for the first time. Only this time, I am forcing myself to wrestle. I am forcing myself to wait before simplly moving on. I am asking questions again, questions that my 16 year old self was asking 23 years ago, questions that still go wihout answer, "how long oh Lord?"!
I don't have an answer for us. There is so much pain in our world right now. There is so much division. We have gone through war over these last few years, globally, nationally, in our families, and even within our own church. Maybe it was God's providence, but I began my ministry here at Redeemer in the Book of Psalms. The Psalms are the place where God gives us permission to lament, to express our anger toward Him, our confusion, frustration, to simply throw ourselves upon Him the way a child throws himself onto his mother when he scrapes his knee. I wish I could give us some action steps that would eradicate this evil from the world. I don't want this to be a political post, and I'm sure everyone has their political opinion on the matter, I know I have mine. One thing I do know for sure, is that we cannot allow life to go on without the wrestling, without the mourning, without the questions. I know I've done that for too long, and it has left me frustratingly and curiously numb. I don't want to be numb to this pain any longer. Jesus entered into the pain and into the suffering. He is calling us to go and do likewise.
Right now, I am praying. I am praying for the pain that these families are experiencing, I am praying for the politicians who are elected to make decisions on how to best protect us, I am praying for some sort of healing to take place for so many, I am praying for the mental health of our young people, I am praying for mothers and fathers as they talk to their children about what happened yesterday, I am praying for our children who are being inundated with so much confusion and fear, I am praying for our church, I am praying for our communities, I am praying for our school districts, I am praying for our police officers, and ultimately I am praying that King Jesus would come quickly.
More in Pastor's Blog
July 5, 2022Lingering in the Text: Reading in the Presence of God
May 25, 2022Curiously Numb
March 3, 2022When Death is At Hand: Reflections on Lent and Ash Wednesday