The recent tragedy in Aurora, Colorado was the latest senseless act of violence to wash over the media. Although when you think about it, truly tragic and seemingly senseless deaths occur every hour of every day. I have heard a number of people say, when they hear about this type of calamity, “How or why would God allow this to happen?” In fact, there was a time in my life when I would have asked that very same question.
If you think for a moment about how many stories you hear (or are personally involved in) which result in grief or loss…a father who dropped dead of a heart attack after going on his evening jog, a mother who leaves a husband and four children behind after valiantly battling cancer, a family (driving to their vacation destination) that gets annihilated by a drunk driver, a child who begins to have seizures then experiences several complicated brain operations and whose results are minimal…the list could literally go on and on. If you allow it to, the incidents and challenges people endure everyday could become quite depressing.
I propose God does not “allow” horrific accidents or illnesses to “happen” out of a sense of punishment or malice, rather I choose to believe these events in life take place for their ripple effect. What is “ripple effect” you ask? Ripple effect is what results from life’s catastrophes. For instance, the families that were intimately affected and deeply touched by the movie premier shooting would be the first ripple. The extended families of those shot or those in attendance the second ripple. The town itself could be the next ripple. And on and on to the point where any of us that have heard of this tragedy through the news are part of the ripple effect. And within the ripple effect occurs many, many things…we hug our children tighter, we count our blessings, we may feel compelled to volunteer at a specific organization, grief and loss take on so many forms. We might experience closer family relationships, a turning (or returning) towards faith in God. In addition there may also be denial, anger, frustration, questioning and, for some, turning away from God.
Each day I need to remind myself that we are brought here, into the world, for a purpose. And not one of us has the ability to know exactly what that purpose is, or when it will have been best served according to His plan. If we dwell on this too much or too often we may live a life filled with anxiety, which is not what He wants for us.
I believe what He truly desires is for us to live our lives to the fullest which means above all else we concentrate on the relationships we have with other people, we serve others rather than our own selfish interests, and we entertain faith in something greater than ourselves to help us in that process.