By Jaime Nava –
I got a call from a member yesterday. She told me that there was a shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. This was particularly important to her because her adult child was working only a few blocks away for the same county. A few of our church’s members were on lockdown in their workplaces and were sent home early when the coast was clear. I saw a volunteer with the local sheriff’s department in our parking lot, so we spoke for a little bit too. What ended our conversation was this sentence, “Officer down. F**k.” This occurred during the shootout with the suspects. Thankfully his injury wasn’t life threatening. I was glad to hear that all of our people got home safely. These same people had to go back to work today. Can you imagine? During a break, one of our people was watching the television and the suspect’s information was released. This member was shocked. The man who went on the spree was a nice guy that our member had different conversations with. He wasn’t the guy you’d expect.
With all tragedy we look for motive. We have an inherent need to know why. Whether it’s a bad childhood, lack of gun control, lack of armed citizens, insanity, anger, or, yes, even religious motives; once we figure out why we can learn to move on. I know it’s a bit crass to compare to this tragedy, but once we know how the magician does his magic trick, we have no need for the magician anymore. Since the couple suspected of doing the shooting is dead, officers have to find clues so that they can piece together a picture of “why”.
I should note that I am not glad they are dead. An earthly justice was performed by our officers. They did the right thing in protecting themselves and their neighbors. Obviously, the couple didn’t want to be captured. Even so, I am not glad. The devil is glad with the confusion, turmoil, chaos, and death. We mourn and pray for the families, that they would find peace in Christ. We pray that the promise of the resurrection in Christ Jesus would be theirs. We pray that the terror the devil has caused will not haunt them forever. For the shooters, there is no praying now. There is no hope of repentance. They stand before their Maker now. I tremble to think what that might be like.
So now the pieces are left to be puzzled back together. The child the shooters had will not know his/her parents. Of course liberals and conservatives will yell at each other. What will the outcome of this be? Will the families find peace? Will that place ever be the same? That is something time will tell. What if there was no answer to why they did it? Can we find resolution in a world with no justification? Can there be hope in the midst of chaos?
The hope of the church is justification. It’s not knowing the answer to every riddle of life. Our hope is in knowing that despite tragedy and suffering, there is peace. It wasn’t to the local ruler that angels came to give the chorale of Jesus’ birth. It wasn’t to nobles or even the temple. It was to shepherds. These were men of the earth, salty and untrustworthy. What do they hear? They hear of Good News and great joy for all people (Luke 2:10). They hear about peace on earth and goodwill to favored mankind. What’s the Good News? What brings such peace? It’s the Savior that has been born that day. It is this Savior who will bring true retribution against sin and death. What’s the plan of attack? A Cross. Who’s in the crosshairs? Jesus Himself. Real justification is dependent only on Jesus Christ and Him crucified for sinners. He is our hope and our peace in the midst of chaos, turmoil, and yes, even suffering.
Is that the answer we want? Hardly. We want Jesus to punch bad guys in the face. We want justice. We want vengeance and recompense. We want big walls to protect us and college administrations to make us feel safe instead of intellectually challenged. To hear about the nice 8 pound six ounce baby Jesus is nice and all, but it doesn’t do much to make me feel better about shootings and terrorists. Is our only hope in a man who was as frail as we are? Yes, because He is more than man. He is also fully God. He is the same one who rose from the dead. He is the one who promises eternal life to those in His wake. The vengeance of God was taken out on Jesus and still He lives.
We don’t always have the answers. We don’t always have the motives. We do have the Good News. It won’t always give us happy-feelies. It won’t always remove anger and outrage. It isn’t the answer we instinctively want, but it’s the one that satisfies in the end. We pray that the families would look to Jesus. We pray that the plans of the wicked would be hindered. We pray for peace. Peace on earth in Jesus Christ.
From all the terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches,
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honor and the sword,
From Sleep and from Damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord.
-excerpt from O God of Earth and Altar, G. K. Chesterton