This is what the world is looking for

I came across this article by accident today about the Virginia Tech shooting. The bold lines are my highlights.
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Needing answers to eternal questions

You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.

You know the shoe I’m talking about — the religion shoe. When the Virginia Tech University story broke, you began clicking from Web site to Web site, channel to channel, seeking information and, then, something more.

You’ve seen photos of mourners in pews, offering comfort and seeking solace. You know believers will pray and journalists will keep aiming cameras at them, because, that’s what Bible Belt people do. People in the southwest Virginia put Scriptures on big road signs and build huge crosses next to Interstate highways. They pray. It’s a good photo, but it’s just prayer. Right? No, you’re waiting for a real religion angle to surface, a crazy one linked to violence and power. After all, religion surfaces in so many bloody stories these days.

Plus, you know there are politicos in Washington who are sitting, TV remotes in hand, waiting to grade the candidates. Will Barack Obama get the tone right, with the right mixture of Scripture and concern? Will Hillary Clinton look chilly? Will anyone in the GOP herd look both presidential and pastoral? You know the pope will say something and that — no matter what he says about the mysteries of life and death, good and evil — it will appear in news reports as a naive cry for peace and for an end to violence.

Then again, journalists know that Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University is a few interstate exits away from Blacksburg, Va., and the Virginia Tech campus.

So maybe he’ll go to Virginia Tech and talk about jealousy, broken hearts and the sexual revolution. Or maybe Pat Robertson will say — something, anything. Then, on the other side, perhaps the atheist version of Robertson could call a press conference and say this tragedy is more evidence that life is random and without purpose.

What about the killer? You’re waiting to find out what video game the shooter played all hours of the day and night. Did he go to see the movie “300” one too many times? Was he driven by Satan or too many “Left Behind” novels? People on both sides of the sacred vs. secular divide need to know. You’re waiting to see if he killed more women than men. You want to know if the big massacre started in the classroom of an evangelical professor who once witnessed to the shooter and made him mad. You heard reporters say the shooter was Asian and you immediately thought: Asia? What part of Asia? What religion was he? You’re waiting for something that points toward the source of this evil.

Am I right?

And if you remember the Columbine (Colo.) High School massacre, you may be thinking of that column that journalist Peggy Noonan — a traditional Catholic — wrote about the “culture of death” hours after that hellish day.

She wrote: “Your child is an intelligent little fish. He swims in deep water. Waves of sound and sight, of thought and fact, come invisibly through that water, like radar; they go through him again and again, from this direction and that. The sound from the television is a wave, and the sound from the radio. … The waves contain words like this, which I’ll limit to only one source, the news: “… took the stand to say the killer was smiling the day the show aired … said the procedure is, in fact, legal infanticide … is thought to be connected to earlier sexual activity among teens … court battle over who owns the frozen sperm … contains songs that call for dominating and even imprisoning women … died of lethal injection … had threatened to kill her children. … had asked Kevorkian for help in killing himself … protested the game, which they said has gone beyond violence to sadism … showed no remorse … which is about a wager over whether he could sleep with another student … which is about her attempts to balance three lovers and a watchful fiance…

“This is the ocean in which our children swim. This is the sound of our culture. It comes from all parts of our culture and reaches all parts of our culture, and all the people in it, which is everybody.”

You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. You want to know the eternal “why” in “who, what, when, where, why and how.” I know that I do.

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That last paragraph is so important. It’s what the broken, dark, and hurting world around us is looking for. They want to know why. We can speculate. We can offer trite sayings that really offer no real meaning but sure sound good. What they need is to see that the world doesn’t have to be like this. That the “eternal why” that they’re looking for will lead them beyond the problem to hope.
One of my all time favorite verses in the Bible is John 16:33 where Jesus tells us: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Because of the sin in our world, there will be problems: Wars will rage, terrorists will strike, murders will happen. It’s the result of humanities poor choices and the effect of sin on God creation. It’s devastating and discouraging to think that, with as much evil as there has been in the world, it’s still not over – it will happen again. And again. But read those last 8 words of the John quote: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God has overcome all the problems that we will ever face. Does it make the pain go away? No. But it gives me hope. Does it stop bad things from happening in the future? No, humanity will screw up things again – just wait. But it gives me incredible peace. Look at the enormity of the problems that the world faces and think that God has overcome all of them. What an awesome and powerful God we serve!
He has promised to never leave us. He hurts with us. He cries with us. And through it all, He’s there. The eternal why that the world is looking for… we may never know. But we can guide them along their journey and remind them that God is there, in the midst of the tragedy ready to comfort and lead us through the tears.

About Matthew Starner

Matthew Starner is pastor of Journey of Faith Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they help people take their next step on their journey with Jesus.

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