Current Events/My Culture Where is God in Sutherland Springs? by Leah Murphy Yesterday I was enjoying a football game in Dallas with my family when I saw my mom type the following into her phone’s browser “San Antonio shooting.” I was curious what she was looking into so I checked my phone and before I had a chance to doubt that yet another mass shooting had taken place in our country, I saw the #SutherlandSprings tweets flooding in. I felt sick to my stomach, knowing that I was having a fun, peaceful time with my family, while an entire town in the same state was reeling after an armed man had viciously attacked a church community during their Sunday morning service. Immediately, my mind raced with questions: who was the shooter? What was his motive? Why did he think this made sense? How could any human being think killing another innocent human being is ever ok? How were the witnesses coping? How could a Christian community that experiences an event like this see God in an event like this? Where is God in an event like this? Where are You, God? That last question rattles me — how could an all-powerful, all-loving God just stand by and let something so terrible happen? Much less, in a place of worship? Doesn’t He have the power to intervene and stop things like this from happening? It’s Monday morning and this is what I know: twenty-six people are dead, by a shooter with an unknown motive, and all this took place in a church — the place where God’s peace is meant to reign — all of this incredibly challenging my faith in God. Although my faith is shaken when tragedies like Sutherland Springs occur, by grace, it will not be destroyed. Who are You, God? God is all-good and all-loving. Because of that, He has given us free will, to either act in accord with His love or contrary to it. If He ever took our free will away from us, God would cease to truly love us. Evil is real and sin is real, and these realities lived in light of free will can cause human beings to do the most unthinkably awful things to one another. And yesterday’s horrifically violent acts confirm that. Because of these two realities, tragic events will take place, but our hope in God’s victory over evil cannot be destroyed. That’s because no part of God desires bad things, evil things, to happen to His children; but He permits them to happen when humans choose sin instead of real love. He doesn’t let these things happen to teach us a lesson, but He does promise that He will draw good evil if we let Him — he will redeem it, restore it, and resurrect it. This isn’t something we understand easily or something that will always be apparent — it is a mystery how He does this. But He does. Our Darkest Moments Jesus’ darkest moment, the cross, is where the redemption of all of humanity takes place. This is the part of the story that all hope should have been lost. But our God took that moment of the most profound suffering and made it the event of salvation. If we can trust Jesus with that, we can trust Him with our darkest moments too. Saint Paul tells us not to be conquered by evil, but to conquer evil with good (Romans 12:21) and if we truly believe in the God who conquered evil on the cross, we must believe that evil will be overcome with good. As Christians, the events of Sutherland Springs demand a response. We must pray and act and here’s how: Pray Pray for the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs community, the souls of the victims, the families and friends mourning the loss of loved ones, the first responders, and for the soul of Devin Kelley, the gunman who committed such a horrific act of violence toward an entire community of innocent people. Pray for an end to violence of all kinds, especially gun violence. Pray for peace in the hearts of all people, in all families, in all communities, and in our world. And pray for the grace to trust that God will draw good from this tragic event, even when it seems impossible to understand. Act Violent events like this end when peace reigns in our world and peace reigns when Jesus reigns in the heart of every human being. Do what you can to receive His peace in your own heart and share that with others — first with your own family, second with your friends, and third in your community. Make an effort to share Christ’s love with those around you and let His love begin to transform your community into one of true peace. Questions, fears, and doubts will certainly follow events like yesterday’s. That’s ok. We should be sickened, shaken, and deeply unsettled by such a horrific act of violence. But evil has been conquered by a good, loving God, and, at times like these, we must have faith in Him.