I, like the rest of America, have been shaken by the horrific events at Virginia Tech. There are so many emotions that arise from watching the news coverage.
The stories coming out about the people who died are hard to listen to. The pictures and bios make the "32 died" a much more devastating reality. I keep thinking of my little sister at her college campus. I think of the young girls her age whose lives were shockingly ended. I ache for their family and loved ones. I hurt for the students who will have images in their minds that will never cease.
As with most people, I am brought back to other events in my life that seemed to just stop time and shake my reality. The first event I remember was the Branch Davidian standoff and fire. I was young but I remember that event being the first to make me sit down in shock when I turned on the television and saw the events unfold. The first event that I remember really understanding that an evil and horrible act had been done was the Oklahoma City bombing. I can remember exactly where I was when I learned of these and other tragedies. I was sitting on my parents bed watching the fiery devastation of the Branch Davidian complex. I was in the kitchen when I heard of the bonfire falling and killing students at the college town I grew up in. I was sitting in a Saw You at the Pole rally in my own town when I learned of a deadly shooting spree at another city's rally. I was driving my little sister to school when I heard about the first plane crashing in the World Trade Center and on my shortcut road to my college campus when I learned of the second plane and the likelihood that it was terrorist attack. I especially remember the fear I felt as a student when Columbine and many other school shootings happened when I was a high school student. Each event has the same memory a sinking feeling in my stomach and the thought of "this is not okay- how does this happen?
I think that is a question that all of us ask in some way. I know I do. I think we want to know why or how these devastating events, caused by other humans, for many reasons. There is a natural curiosity. There is a desire and need to make sense of the incomprehensible.
My Christian psychology professor addressed this today during our prayer time. He said something to the effect of "psychology can offer explanations as to how a person could do this but psychology can only address the processes." Science, psychology, criminology and religiosity cannot answer why. CNN, NBC and Charles Gibson cannot answer why. The real issue is that there is sin in this world and it is pervasive. Paul in the New Testament writes of groans coming from not only Christians but creation as well, as we wait for the realized completion of salvation when we live in God's kingdom. Christ has already been victorious over death but believers still live on an earth where evil pervades and sin is still rampant. This most recent event is a clear reminder of that reality. It is a result of the worst of human nature and the sin that exists.
Even living amongst this sin and fear, Christians are able to find comfort. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 43:2-3: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. We are not promised to be spared from the rushing rivers or the fire...but because of who God is we will not be overcome by any of it.
This is my prayer for the families, friends, students...I can't begin to comprehend the pain they are experiencing. But I pray that even in the worst moments of their life they will be able to trust in the God who will not let us be overcome by the sin of this world.