Once again our nation is reduced to tears of sorrow as one lone madman senselessly stole not only the lives of so many innocent young children and their teachers, but stole a piece of our nations’ heart. Who would have believed that this was even possible? These were children. Children who had their whole lives in front of them. Children, though they were not perfect, were not deserving of such a heinous crime. It was not just a crime against the children, but against all humanity. For if one person could needlessly slaughter 27 innocent people that he did not even know, what are we as a human race capable of doing?
As this tragedy unfolded, so many of us around the country cried out for answers? Why did something like this have to happen? No matter how much we cried and how hard we prayed, there were no real answers. When something as tragic as this happens, there never are answers. Sure, there are those who try to give answers. We need to outlaw guns, or at least certain types of guns. We should have a better way of finding and helping those with mental and emotional problems. Or we need to arm our teachers so they can protect our kids. We should have never taken prayer and Bible out of the schools. Those are just a few of the many responses that have surfaced, all trying to answer the simple question of why. But none of those are real, lasting answers. None strike at the heart of why these evil things happen. These are questions that simply cannot be answered. Yet we have to ask how this could have happened.
So where do we go? There will be many of you reading this that will greatly disagree with what I have to say. Others will triumph me for saying what they too believe. Some will call me names and some will love me. And either is okay. But I am firmly believe that what happened in Newtown has been brewing in our nation for a while. No, not this one horrendous act. This was formed in a mind of a sick individual. We never saw this coming. But in hindsight, as we wonder how this could have happened, perhaps we should have seen it.
Over a decade ago, I was serving as a youth pastor at a church when the tragedy of Columbine entered into our lives. We cried at those events and prayed for the families of those affected then just like we are doing for the families in Newtown. One week later, I preached a message to my youth group saying that though we could never adequately explain what had happened, we did need to understand that this was not just about some crazy individuals who were bent on seeking revenge, but that this was also spiritual in nature. It was part of the age old battle between good and evil. Evil had just won a battle, but were we going to let it win the war? The testimonies that came out of the Columbine massacre as well as such organizations as Rachel’s Challenge that has gone into schools across the nation showed that we were able to take what was meant for evil and make something good come from it. But can we do the same after losing such young, precious, innocent souls? Right now, many wonder if we can because we don’t have the answers to the question that burns in our heart – how could this have happened?
I challenged my youth group over a decade ago, as I challenge our nation today, to see this as it really is. We are a country who has thumbed our nose at God and have tried our best to remove Him from our society. Christians will quickly point out that God cannot be removed from our society just because they pass laws saying we can’t pray in school. And they are right. However, the fact that we as a nation no longer even consider ourselves to be a Christian nation (those words came straight from our current President), then we are no longer standing for the things God teaches. As a result, we have slowly allowed evil into our society. Even in schools, we are so much about treating people “fairly” that we forget justice. Our homes are too busy trying to keep up with society that we don’t teach our children the difference between right and wrong. And yet we ask ourselves how these tragedies could have happened.
As despicable as the events in Newtown are in our minds (and believe me, I am as shaken as any of you are by this. I have a nine year old son and I know how much it would kill me had he been going to school in Newtown), I have to wonder if perhaps we as a nation have allowed this to happen. What have we taught our children over the past several decades? What did our parents teach us and what did we pass on to our children as to the value of human life? How much did Adam Lanza value human life? He took 27 lives. We as nation are appalled by his actions against humanity. Yet, for almost four decades now we have turned a blind eye to virtually the same crime in the killing of innocent unborn children. But that doesn’t affect us the same way because our courts have said it is legal. Our courts have taught us that there is no real value in unborn human lives. And we the people of this once great nation have followed right along with them. So people like Adam Lanza take it one step further and do not see value in human lives that are six years older than the unborn children we kill each day. And we ask ourselves how this tragedy in Newtown could have happened.
Believe me, I am not discounting the horror of the Newtown shooting. That day is going to change the lives of the people in that community forever. My prayer is that it will actually change the lives of people all over America and we will again turn to God and see that doing our part to propagate such evil in our nation must be stopped. Who will commit to help change this nation to one who once again stands against evil instead of helping propagate it? Who will pray with me and work with me in any way they can to make sure that we never again have to ask how something like this could have happened?
Steve Biddison is the author of several books, including several Christian devotionals.