Evil blasted its way into an elementary school this past week as Adam Lanza, a crazed, camouflaged madman, unloaded his demonic fury on 20 trapped, helpless children and six heroic adults. I cannot fathom what it's like for those parents who sent their precious babies off to school in Newtown, Conn., last Friday morning, never thinking twice about seeing them later that afternoon, and then getting the call that something had gone terribly, terribly wrong and they needed to come immediately.
My mind flips from one group impacted to another: the first-responders who had no idea what carnage would meet them when they entered those bloody classrooms; the pathologist whose job it was to determine the exact cause of death as he moved from one steel table to another; the mortuary workers who had the unenviable job of helping parents choose coffins and burial plots; and even Lanza's family who will forever live with guilt in not recognizing warning signs.
I found myself not unlike most who watched television reporters piecing together the day's events, searching for a reason for such a heinous atrocity. When one interviewer tried to get the local priest to blame God, I wondered how many viewers thought likewise, and then I silently cheered as the reverend explained that we live in an evil world and that God grieves every time we make choices to violate his commands. When the reporter asked how these families were expected to worship the birth of a baby in a manger and look to the sky in wonder of the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem, the priest responded that there are now 26 new stars in the Heavens.
One of the interviews was with the father of Rachel Scott, the young woman who died in the Columbine shootings after refusing to renounce her faith. Scott said that before the Colorado massacre, he had told his wife that he thought they should be ready for "something," never imagining it would involve his daughter's death and the millions impacted by it. "You don't get prepared in a crisis," he said. "You get prepared before the crisis. If you are a see-througher and not a look-atter, seeing God through whatever happens, you will be able to deal with anything handed to you."
But this? Innocent 7-year olds? One of them shot as many as 11 times? What could possibly possess someone to become that depraved? Investigators will no doubt search for answers to that question, but we of the older generation can't help but wonder how much more wicked our world is now than when we were young. Isn't there some moral line that just shouldn't ever, ever, ever be crossed? Wasn't this it?
In his book "Why?," Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., addressed questions many have asked (and certainly are asking now) about how God's will intersects evil. Who of us doesn't have at least a fleeting thought that God could have prevented this massacre? Pastor Hamilton answers that question by first explaining the fall of Adam and Eve and the ever-present enemy who constantly beckons us to abuse the freedom given to us by our Creator and the subsequent suffering that ensues when we misuse that gift. God gave us the ability to choose, for without it we become puppets instead of human beings.
Instead of blaming God, possibly we should be thankful for the quick response by police, ending Lanza's murderous rampage instead of him continuing throughout the building. Possibly we are all to be reminded of Satan and his prevalence in today's world, recognizing that we must be spiritually prepared so that, when crisis strikes, we will be see-throughers instead of look-atters. Or possibly it's that we never take our loved ones for granted. Whatever the answer, for now let us all be faithful to pray for those impacted by this tragedy.