I woke up Friday, still feeling worn out from a very long road trip that saw me crossing into six states outside of Alabama. I started my day like everyone else I suppose, but it was hectic and busy. A news alert crossed my phone. Something about a shooting. I swiped it away and continued working. Dove into the batch of folders that needed my attention and began working on numbers for job quotes. My phone kept buzzing with the same alert. The words I recognized were "Conn." (for Connecticut) and "shooting" as in someone somewhere had apparently shot a gun, probably at someone. I swiped the news alert away again.
Over and over again this same news alert kept popping up. "Shooting" "Conn." were there with each alert that kept coming and I began to get annoyed. I remember thinking to myself "Enough already! I get it! There's been a shooting!" I made a mental note to myself to see if there were some way to reconfigure my phone to somehow reject incoming news alerts that repeated themselves over and over again. Toward the end of my day, still busy trying to get things wrapped up, and laying aside those things that would have to be done later, my mind began to focus on the clock. Soon as work was over I had to grab something quick to eat and leave to my second job.
My wife was out and about, so I called to see where she was and reminded her that I had to leave for my other job soon. She said she'd bring in some fast-food. Soon as she came home I grabbed a couple of the heavier bags of groceries and then began to eat while my wife and the girls unloaded the rest of the car. My phone buzzed again, glancing at it I just saw the two words I've been noticing all day and swiped it away again. I jumped in my car and barely made it to my second job on time. Things there were already hectic, so I jumped right in and began working.
My phone kept buzzing still.
After work that night, I drove home physically and mentally just spent. All I wanted was my nice cozy chair, something warm to eat and drink, and just to be around my family. My wife had allowed the girls to stay up late so I could be there to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. As I walked in the front door, the girls were in the back room playing and my wife was glued to the news on TV. "Not like her to say nothing when I walk in the door," I thought to myself. "Is she mad at me or something?"
"Hey there! I'm home," I said testing the waters. "Glad you're home safe," my wife replied. "I've just now been able to watch the news about the shooting. I had to send the girls out of the room for a while so I could get the latest details." My response was to simply shrug it off and go to the refrigerator to see if there was anything leftover I could warm up and eat. "So there's been another shooting. Another idiot with a gun in Connecticut. Why is this news? I've been getting the alerts all day!"
That's when my wife unfolded the story for me as I sat next to her to watch the news. The real tragedy was not of another random shooting, but the killing of innocents. The stories of the first responders trained to handle horrific sights walking away shaken to their core. The flurry of activity as parents flooded the scene, some tightly hugging their children close to their chest as they walked away from the school. Some being sent to a volunteer firehouse to get the news they would never hold their children alive again. My daughters are 5 and 9 years old. It hit me like a ton of bricks. For the first time in my life I cried as I watched the news. Putting my children to bed that night was a very sobering, purposeful, and thankful moment.
Now, the story had my attention. All day long it had the attention of most of the nation and even the world. This morning I saw pictures of Pakistani children making a candlelight memorial for the slain children in America, and another of a row of black crosses on a beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The inevitable question of "why" comes to everyone's mind. To others, they will ask the same question of God; some with words of pleading and a desire to understand, some others with hate and disgust that a loving God could allow such a thing, if there was ever such a thing as God.
First, I will not pretend to know the mind of God. Second, I truly believe God could have stopped and intervened if He had chosen to do so. Why this event was allowed to unfold, I do not pretend to know, but there are two things I do know. First, there is evil in this world, and that evil manifests itself in the hearts of men with the free will to choose to do good or evil. Second, there was another great tragedy over 2,000 years ago. One that God in heaven not only allowed to happen, but chose to look away. As Jesus Christ hung on the cross, He too, cried out the word "why" and not just to the wind or the sky, but to his own Father in heaven.
Many people died by Roman crucifixion, but today the world only remembers the name of one of them. It was a horrific act of great torture and suffering, a terrible sacrifice of One who was totally innocent, but it has arrested the attention of the world for over 2,000 years now. Again, I do not pretend to have answers as to why God allowed the slaying of innocents in Connecticut, but I do know that it reminded me of One other innocent who died to save the souls of all mankind, and that we will be celebrating His birth around this time of year. The birth of One, born to die.