Trusting in God's Goodness When Tragedy Strikes
I’m sitting here this morning staring at a blank screen. Like so many around me, I am heartbroken, sleep deprived, and questioning the circumstances that unfolded. Our small neighboring community has been shaken, and our children are afraid to go to school.
At approximately 4:15 p.m. yesterday afternoon, August 28 2017, Nathan Jouett, a high school sophomore, walked into the Clovis Carver Library and shot 6 people, killing 2 innocent women. This was the library we grew up in, and the library we take our children to. Krissie Carter and Wanda Walter’s lives were taken abruptly yesterday, four others are fighting for their lives as we speak, and we as a community are trying to make sense of it all.
We see these things in the media, heartbreaking examples of innocent lives taken in incidents such as Orlando, Sandy Hook, and Columbine. We’ve prayed for victims and have been glued to the news. We have sympathized, and we have tried to empathize. It has never been home, though. In the bubble we live in, tragedy finally hit home. We are angry, we are confused, and we are sad, but as Mayor David Lansford said, “We are a faith based community.” We are faithful.
Some may be asking what is there to be faithful about? Where is God in all of this? Where is God in any of this throughout the country? As Christians, how do we make sense of this and help others to make sense of it as well?
We Question God
As Christians, we should question God. It is okay to meditate on tragic events and to ask God why. We see these examples in the book of Job, where when faced with his own personal misfortunes, though considered blameless, Job was not afraid to question God. Job Chapter 3 shows us he was broken. Job 3:20—21 states, “Why is light given to one burdened with grief, and life to those whose existence is bitter?” God didn’t turn His back on Job for his questions, and He won’t turn our backs on us for ours.
We Remember the Battle is Spiritual
Spiritual Warfare is a very real thing. This shooting, like all of the others, is a prime manifestation of something evil that we as Christians need to battle in prayer. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, and against the spiritual forces in the heavens.
How can a young man who was baptized a month ago and was so excited about giving his testimony, shoot 6 innocent people one month later? Satan is the god of this world and he seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. This event, nor Satan’s influence, isn’t to be taken lightly.
We Love the Victims Fiercely
It is easy for us to love at an arm’s length. We throw out our signature bible verses such as Romans 8:28 and leave it at that. We post on social media, but we fail to get our hands dirty. We have to remember that those affected, the family members and friends, aren’t leaky faucets that need to be patched up with a simple verse or two. We take action, we love them, we hug them, we cry with them, we pray with them, and sometimes we simply sit with them. We don’t take tragedy lightly, but we hit it head on with love and action.
We Pray for the Offender
It is difficult for me to wrap my mind on what would drive a 16 year old boy to walk into the library and do this. This kid, Nathan, is someone’s son, someone’s boyfriend, and someone’s brother. There is so much hate being spewed out on social media towards him and his family. While I do not condone his actions one bit and believe that the justice system will and should prevail against his actions, our job again as Christians is to pray. This young man will rightly suffer consequence the rest of his life, as well as his family. Does that discount Him from the privilege of prayer? No. Satan is the real enemy.
We Trust in the Goodness of God
God’s goodness is something we will never be able to fully comprehend in this lifetime. God is so good that He gives us all free will. Events like this leave us to question the sovereignty of God. If God is so good, why didn’t He stop this tragedy? I have wrestled with this question so many times in my life. Suicide of friends, loss of loved ones, and the question still remains: why does God allow tragedy? The thing about these questions is they are asked from a very narrow, earthly perspective. In light of eternity, there is so much more to think about.
This event, like others that has happened before, is no surprise to God. No matter how it happens, our days are numbered under God’s hand. Psalm 39 reminds us of the fleeting nature of life. Psalm 39: 4-5 states, “Lord, make me aware of my end and the number of my days
so that I will know how short-lived I am. In fact, you have made my days just inches long, and my life span is as nothing to you. Yes, every human being stands as only a vapor. Selah." Sometimes we step into eternity due to natural causes; other times, our deaths are consequences of human error, even human nature. The words of Paul give us truth in Romans 6:23, which tells us that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The comfort in this is that this lifeis not the best there is. The consequence of sin is death. It goes back to Adam and Eve and the fall of mankind. We remember though, death has been defeated, Satan has been defeated, and life does not end on this earth. There is comfort in that truth.
The community of Clovis and surrounding communities are shaken and heartbroken, but we are strong. Again, as Mayor David Lansford said that “we are a faith based community” who has not hesitated in prayers and sympathy for those affected by this horrifying event. It will take time for us to heal, and it leaves us forever changed. We will continue to persevere, to trust God, and to pray. We are CLOVIS STRONG, not even because of who we are, but because of who God is. We will continue to pray, we will continue to fight, and we will continue to love.
* This article first appeared in Reformed Outlook. Used with permission.
Chelsi Woods is a Jesus loving, tattooed soccer mom, who's passionate about music, theology, sound doctrine, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. She is also a contributor at Reformed Outlook, and has a heart for discipleship and the study of scripture. Chelsi hopes to honor Christ through writing, music, and humor to offer a solid message of a supernatural peace and hope in Christ and Christ alone. She is an Army veteran and is a member of First Baptist Church in Farwell, TX where she plays guitar and bass on the worship team.