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Posted by Lawrence "LAW" Watford - - 0 comments

I know it's history to many of you now, but the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School stayed with me.  And after pondering for some time, I finally came up with a semi-coherent answer to the question "What does it all mean?"

Immediately following the shooting, there were the natural questions, 'where was God?" and "why would God allow such a tragedy to befall innocent children?" and naturally, the spiritual discourse became politicized.  Some Christians fell into the trap of using the event as an opportunity to talk about abortion, gay marriage and prayer in schools. Likewise, some Atheist found an odd sense of pleasure in using the tragedy to refute the idea of an Omni-benevolent God, prompting outraged from Christians that anyone would dare use this horrific event to question God's authority, let alone his existence.   I, on the other hand never begrudge these questions, nor do I take offense.  These are natural questions for anyone trying to make sense out the world we live in, and the answers (despite our best intentions) seem to be sorely lacking.  

I am a person of faith and follower of Jesus Christ.  I attend church regularly, pray with my children nightly and even find occasions where I crack open my Bible on a day other than Sunday.   Yet  I, like Americans of other faiths and no faith spent the Christmas season burdened with a heaviness that I couldn't shake; a foreboding sense that all was wrong with the world;.  This increased and came to a head when it was time for my wife and I to find childcare for my youngest children - a 2 year old and 6 month old.  If you have children, then you KNOW that there is no scarier time than when you first have to entrust their livelihood to someone else, often a person you don't know.   

As we thought about it and prayed about it and thought about it some more, in the back of our minds was the "massacre" at Sandy Hook Elementary.   I don't know if you caught that, but the "tragedy" (which connotes a sense of sympathy and empathy) had evolved into  the "massacre" (which connotes horror and terror).  And as we begin to worry more about our childcare decision, our thoughts became laced with all of the worst-case scenarios we could imagine.  We thought about the kids chocking, the cases of kidnapping and pedophilia and the news exposés about all crazy things that "nanny cams" were capturing.   But after the crescendo of worry ended, there was a moment of clarity for me and something made sense.  Fear... I realized that the purpose/intention of the Sandy Hook shooting was to instill fear in us.

Now in order for you to make sense of what made sense to me there are a couple of things that need to happen.  

  1. You need to accept that their is good and evil in the world 
  2. You need to accept that there is a source of that good (God) and that evil (Devil - to put it simply) -fortunately for the this discussion that's statistically nearly 100% of the country.
  3. You need to accept that their is a purpose in both the good and evil that occurs. 
  4. And that your reaction to either has the power to invite more of it into your life.
A very wise man, Bishop Michel Talbert once explained something to me that was profound (and again, this is spiritual stuff for those of you who don't believe the things above).  He said that, essentially Satan/The Devil is under the authority of man in every regard, and that the only way he can coopt that authority is if it is ceded to him by us.   So how do we cede that authority? It's simple. We merely choose to react to any given situation in a way that moves our focus from God (and your position in Him) to man.   This is something we do so often and with such ease that we've given it a comfortable name - "human nature."  And being human, human nature isn't inherently evil, except to the degree that it metastasizes into something that overtakes us.  Desire is human nature that metastasizes into gluttony or lust.  Anger is human nature that grows into wrath, and sadness can easily become despair - as too can fear.  

So what does that mean?  I means that in my choice to accept fear as a response to the Sandy Hook tragedy, I also - be default -  gave away enough of my authority to invite more fear into my life.  This, to such a degree that it was beginning to overwhelm my faith as I focused on what I could do to protect myself from whatever I was fearing.  And while i'm engaging this fear with a human reasoning that's grossly outmatched by the frequency and gravity of these kinds of events, I'm also being distracted from my faith in a loving God and from the knowledge that only He knows the future and how to protect me and my family from every and any tragic scenario that I was imagining. And even as I sit here typing I see the below notification on Facebook, which had the immediate effect of triggering more fear:


So when the next mass shooting or terrorist attack happens (and there will indeed be more) and people start asking "Why God?... Why?" then remind them that the purpose of evil is to so overwhelm our minds with fear that we loose sight (if we've ever had it) of God's authority over it, an authority which he has imparted to us in fair measure by way of our faith.  Faith, in many respects is mind over matter.  I sometimes like to think about it in terms of the old Looney Tunes or Scooby Doo cartoons where the characters would run off a cliff and keep running for five or six yards on air before they realized that there was no ground beneath their feet.  As long as they didn't look down, they were fine, but as soon as they looked down, they became frightened and fall a few hundred feet to the ground.  The same can be said for Peter walking on the water to meet Jesus.  It wasn't until his fear overtook his faith that he sank...  Fear reinforces our humanity,  but also opens an opportunity for us to choose our Godly natures over our human nature by way of our response to it.  

It is only after thinking about things in this manner that the Biblical scripture 1 John 4:18 makes sense to me. 
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment (torment), and this shows the we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

BTW: If anyone has anything more to add or take away from what I wrote, please start a discussion about it on my Facebook page @ and let's see if we can better understand these profound life questions.

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