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Friday’s early morning shooting spree in a Colorado movie theater left 12 dead, 58 wounded, and a nation stunned and mourning. More questions than answers arise from such tragedies, yet as I processed the news, three thoughts came to mind.
The late J. Vernon McGee called sin a crooked line. If you ask a room full of people to draw a straight line, you know how that line will look. Some will be horizontal, others diagonal or vertical. Some long, some short. Despite these differences you know how a straight line looks.
If you ask the same group to draw a crooked line, you will have as many shapes as people.
Once someone starts down the twisted path of sin, they don’t know how it will distort and pervert their life. Proverbs 4:23, ( NCV) warns, "Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life." Romans 1:18-32 traces the ever increasing perversion of sin and God granting people their choices. “... So God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.”
How tragic that James Eagen Holmes, a brilliant student, would become a mass murderer. While most people don’t turn into killers, sin still deforms its victims.
Lesson: Unchecked thoughts become actions. Actions become destiny.
I want to believe I can protect myself from pain, but misfortune is not a respecter of people. After some tragedies had shaken the people in Jesus’ day, He addressed their thoughts. “Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” Luke 13:4-5, NIV.
Whether it enters as a masked assassin, drunk driver, or illness, calamity affects the innocent as well as the erring. Because life is uncertain, tragedy reminds us to not postpone our relationship with God. Just as those in the movie theater didn’t expect an appointment with death, neither do we know our appointed time. “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27, NIV), those best equipped to live are those most ready to die.
Lesson: Being right with God doesn’t insulate me from injury, but it ensures my eternal well-being.
Finally, Isaiah writes: "The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil," (Isaiah 57:1 NIV).
The godly who died are taken away to heaven. We may be separated for a few decades, but Christians carry the hope of an eternal reunion. If God allows untimely death, it is to spare His children from future evil.
Lesson: I can trust God in tragedy.
Our hearts go out to those affected by this unspeakable horror. May God wrap the families in His love and presence and use this senseless loss to grant us the good sense of eternity.