America woke up to some pretty horrific news today. A gunman dressed in full riot gear and armed with multiple weapons opened fire in a movie theater in Aurora, CO, during the sold-out midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. As of this writing, the death toll for this tragedy stands at 12, with at least 59 listed as injured, some still in critical condition.
In the coming weeks and months, the media will undoubtedly pick this story apart for us as we all try to understand how and why a thing like this could happen. What would lead an educated man to plan such an elaborate senseless slaying of innocent people? The fact that the suspect was captured alive may provide us some of those answers, but we will never fully be able to comprehend the reality that one human being could such a thing to another.
Regardless of how much information comes out about the shooter and his motives, no answer is going to be satisfying for us. No background story is going to assuage the pain and anger that so many people feel over such a heinous crime. The tragedy is real, and it remains. The same can be said in all of our lives: we have personal pain that sometimes threatens to tears us apart at the very seams of our souls. Though our first cry is often, “WHY?!,” the answer is never satisfying.
- Knowing that the drunk driver who killed your wife had just been fired from a job doesn’t fill the void of her absence.
- Knowing that your child battled depression does not soften the blow of his suicide.
- Knowing that your boyfriend did not have a father figure in the home does not mollify the shame and abuse you suffered by his hand.
Knowing why never gives us the strength to rise after a Dark Night.
Knowing who, on the other hand, does. I love what Jud Wilhite says in his book, Torn:
…Why is not the most fundamental human question when it comes to suffering. Even if we had all the answers to our whys, we might actually find them unsatisfying and unredemptive for the pain we are facing. A bigger question emerges. The most fundamental question…is who…God is near to us when we are torn up, mending the frayed edges of our hearts. In fact, what we find is that pain doesn’t rule out an all-powerful and loving God so much as an all-powerful and loving God rules over pain…If we know who is mighty to save and loving enough to do it in ways we usually don’t expect, we can see our pain and suffering in a new light.
Whenever I find myself in the midst of a Dark Night, I try – sometimes with great difficulty – to remember that my God is good, and He is great, and He is in control. My Savior has already won. He arose from his darkest night so that I can rise from mine.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning. — Psalm 30:5