"Where was God?"
It's a question a lot of people are asking in the aftermath of the shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school that left more than two dozen people—including 20 small children—dead.
It's a question that believers are asking, wondering how a loving and merciful God could allow such a tragedy to occur. It's a question nonbelievers are asking too, as though this tragedy somehow proves the universe is random, that there is no author and creator behind it all.
Tragedies of the sort that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School cause all of us to look deeply within ourselves, to seek explanations for the horrors and terrors we sometimes encounter—not just in times of extreme distress but each and every day.
The truth is that evil exists. It's all around us. The real sorrow comes from the ways in which we manage to block it out, to overlook it lest it disrupt our every day routines. The daily papers, local newscasts, and the Internet are replete with stories of multiple murders, muggings, the abuse of the children and the elderly, drunk driving fatalities—all of which may have once tugged at our heart strings but are now received with a collective shrug. The slaughter of the innocents in Newtown has caused us all to stop and pause but the real question is why did it take a tragedy of that dimension to catch our attention?
We all have reason to be encouraged, however. The duality of the universe requires that, if evil exists then good must exist as well. We see it every day in the smiles of children, in the people helping one another, in the countless acts of charity that are performed each and every day by those who have genuine concern for the lives of others. And it is in these acts of kindness that we can see God, that we can know He exists.
Scripture tells us that the two most basic commandments are to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. When we show concern for one another, when we help those in need, when we feed the hungry and cloth the naked then we are doing the will of God, we are carrying out His plan for the world.
No one can really explain why things happened in Newtown as they did, why God permitted it to occur as it did. We can take solace in the fact that He was there too, and even now as He comforts the hurt and the grieving that He allows us to see, through the prism of this singular tragedy, that abundant goodness exists as well.
As we move on with our lives it is important to keep things in perspective. To see there is good in the world as well as evil and to do all that we can to make things better. We have the capacity, we can choose to do good and we must. The future of mankind depends on it.