Current Events/My Culture Hope in the Shock of Parkland by Leah Murphy Vegas. Sutherland Springs. And now, Parkland, FL. Do we have a reason to believe that these tragedies will come to an end? Is it silly to have hope when evil like this continues to rear its ugly face at us? Are we just making ourselves feel better by telling ourselves that God exists and that He cares? If He really did, why wouldn’t He do something about all this? Why does it keep happening? It’s Ash Wednesday, it’s Valentine’s Day, and on a day when, even the secular world is celebrating love, we all watched our Twitter feeds fill up with updates on an active shooter who violently took the lives of children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. How does this just keep happening? What brings a person to the point of taking another human being’s life? And what if it doesn’t make any of it better to say “we’re praying for the victims”? As I heard about this tragedy unfolding, I was sickeningly unsurprised by what was going on — another school shooting, another tragedy, another sick person taking the lives of innocent people. I was sickened, saddened, furious, and unsettled… but not shocked. It doesn’t shock me anymore. This should not be how it is. Whether we Feel it or not, This is Shocking Human beings taking the lives of other human beings, innocent or not, is shocking because it goes against everything nature says. Nature says life is good, life is worth living, life is worth fighting for, life is worth protecting, life is worth defending. That’s why we all have an instinctive, natural desire to live and that, only when our desires become disordered, do we cease to desire to be alive. Life is good because it’s given to us by God and He gives it to us purely because He loves us. So when ends, it is not good. And when one’s life is taken by another person, a serious, tragic evil has occurred. That’s why tragedies like what happened in Parkland should shake us to the core — not only has the evil of death taken place, but it has been taken in a very evil way. The shock of a school shooting is God’s design within us screaming out “this is not a good thing… and we were made for good!” The height of evil that a human being, like the shooter in Parkland is capable of rising to shocks us because God gave us life, with an inherent knowledge that life is good; and when we see that taken from other people in a heartless way, we cannot remain unmoved. What Sin Does is Shocking This is all shocking because the reality of sin is shocking. It was not how it was meant to be. God did not create us for a life where mass shootings are an unsurprising reality. He did not design us for a world where such evil has any say over our lives. He did not create us for death. God created us for life with Him — it’s literally how we have been designed. In our selfishness though, in our desire to do things apart from Him, the One we literally need to know the fullness of life, we chose things that are not so good. We’ve chosen sin — the very thing that we were not made for — instead of relationship with God — the very thing we were made for. Since sin has made its way into humanity, we continually find ourselves unsettled, broken, bothered, and even sickened by its effects. And when we see the depths of darkness that sin can take a person to, we can be shocked. We should be shocked. Because it’s not what we were made for. We Have a Reason to Hope So when we see these tragedies unfold, are we really just dumb Christians for clinging to any semblance of hope we can find? Isn’t another tragedy just bound to happen anyways? Isn’t sin going to continue to be a thing? So, even if evil realities like what happened in Parkland aren’t God’s direct fault, aren’t they going to persist? Why should we have hope? We have hope because sin is not the way it was ever meant to be. Death was never part of the plan. And, for that reason, Christ defeated both of them on the cross. In all honesty, I type that out, and there’s part of me that feels defeated when I write it. I’ve typed similar things before (I’m sure I’ll write similar things again), and, while I do believe that Christ defeated sin and death on the cross, how does that actually help me (or anyone, for that matter) when I inevitably see yet another mass shooting take place? What does that actually do for us here and now? And then I remember the reality of the Kingdom of God. I remember that Jesus invites us into this Kingdom and doesn’t force us into it… and some will reject Him. And I remember that accepting His invitation is done by dying with Him… and some will refuse to. And I remember that dying with Him doesn’t mean we’ll be able to understand the evil realities that we’ll face in this life, but it gives meaning to them… and many will believe they’re meaningless. As Christians, we have a reason to hope, not because we can understand the reality of tragedies like what took place in Parkland. We have a reason to hope because our God works with our mess. Sin and death weren’t supposed to affect us. But because we chose them, because He loves us so much, God refuses to let them claim us without a fight. He nailed sin and death on a cross so that, even in our sin, even when death exists, we can still be claimed by Him. Christianity doesn’t invite us to an unreasonable hope. It’s not a religion for people that just want to feel better. It’s not a belief system that detaches people from the reality of the evils of this world. On the other hand, following Christ demands that we see the despicable realities of evil in the world, recognize them for what they are, and have faith big enough to believe that Jesus has defeated them. He loves us too much to let us surrender to sin. In times of tragedy like this, we have to be brave enough to ask for faith to surrender only to Him. Youth ministers, if you’re responding to this tragedy with your teens at a Life Night, feel free to use the resource When it’s Dark as an aid.