Reflections on Sandy Hook: Why Would God Let This Happen?
I need to start this post by stating that it has nothing to do with technology and it is deeply rooted in my own spiritual beliefs. And, it's rather lengthy. I do hope, however, that you read on.
In trying to understand the recent horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, many people are faced with the burning question - How could this happen? We begin to question the balance of our world and how our creator (whoever that may be for you) could let something like this happen.
I want to share with you all an excerpt from a talk I gave on forgiveness at a men's retreat with my church. In the talk, I reflected on another tragic event that happened at a school I worked at. I thinks its appropriate to share this now as we all seek out answers to the tragedy at Sandy Hook...
In addition to forgiving yourself, there’s one other time that forgiving can be especially hard – forgiving our God. There are some that would find that thought disturbing, absurd, even sacrilegious. Our God needs no forgiveness for there is nothing He does without a reason. However, there are times that things happen that just seem so horrific, so out of balance, that we wonder how our creator lets them happen. Innocent children are molested. Loving mothers battle life-threatening disease. Good Christian people are killed for no reason.
Before I became the principal of Cole High School, I served as an assistant principal at Alamo Heights High School for five years. During my tenure, I helped establish an alternative learning environment for students who weren’t succeeding in the regular school setting. These weren’t necessarily students in behavioral trouble, but students who for one reason or another needed something different. Some had to work to help support their families and needed an altered schedule. Others came with a lot of emotional baggage, and we had a few young ladies who were pregnant.
We knew that for a school like this to be successful, we needed a loving, caring, and dedicated teacher. We found that teacher in Mrs. Diane Tilly. Diane was a class act. She was a wonderful teacher, a thoughtful colleague, and a devoted Christian.
She cared for the students of The Robbins Academy as if they were her own children. At Robbins, she created for them a home away from home, a safe haven where they could discover their God-given talents and succeed. In a heartfelt letter to Diane, one of her students wrote, "I can still remember the day my life turned for the good; when you opened your arms and welcomed me to a brighter future. How could you love a troubled daughter like me? When I had nothing to eat, you fed me, clothed me and made sure that school was a whole lot better than home. We don't look alike, you didn't give birth to me, we haven't known each other for all my life; but forever I will love you and call you Momma."
Diane was a loving and trusting woman, and it was only natural for her to help anyone in need. So on November 22, 1994, when 15 year old Pearl Ann Cruz knocked on Diane's front door and said she was having car trouble, Diane was more than willing to help. Diane had previously hired Pearl's dad, Ronnie Joe Neal, to do some yard work. So, both Pearl and her dad Ronnie Neal entered Diane's house that fateful day. They were the last two people on earth Diane would ever see.
Over the next 48 hours, Ronnie Neal savagely beat and terrorized Diane. He tied her to her bed and raped her while his daughter looked on. They stole her jewelry, her ATM card, and then drove Diane in her own car to an abandoned lot. There, Ronnie Neal shot Diane repeatedly and left her to die.
When Jesus lay upon his cross dying, he forgave those who persecuted him. Pearl Cruz's own testimony tells a similar story. As Diane lay dying, beaten and bloody, she looked over at the young girl, drew her last breath and said, "God, bless this child."
When things like this happen, we are sometimes assaulted by sorrow so heavy we may wonder how a God we know and love so much could allow them to happen. Why was one of God’s good and faithful servant allowed to suffer so much? Why was the only glimmer of hope to so many troubled students taken away so abruptly?
The truth of it is – we have no answer. There are no explanations to much of life. All we can do is have faith that God has His plan. When we are suffering, He is suffering and rather than blame Him, curse Him, or try to second guess Him, we should let our faith guide us in our walk with Him – our fellow Sufferer – to wherever he is leading us.