The question that immediately comes to mind is, "Why?" During the coffee social hour in my rural town's cafe, someone asked me, "So is this predestination-- something that God did?"
No. This is not anything that God did. While predestination is used to describe God's control over all things, that term has more to do with God's saving activity (see Ephesians 1:3-6). In no way should anyone suggest that God was directly responsible for the tragic events at Virginia Tech.
But couldn't have God prevented the situation in the first place? Or limited the carnage? Yes. God is sovereign. He reigns over all things. Nothing escapes His sight. I don't say this glibly. My first daughter died unexpectedly at 4 days from a heart defect. I too have been touched by personal tragedy. I too have questioned God for his apparent non-activity. Job did too. It's an age old question.
While God is sovereign, there's another side of this philosophical equation--human responsibility. God has given us freedom. We are not robots. We have the ability to make real choices, even those that offend a holy and righteous God. Freedom at its best is expressed by love. Freedom at its worst is expressed by evil. Blame for this tragedy lies firmly with the shooter.
Every single human being will give God an accounting of their actions. God doesn't grade on a curve. He judges each and every one of us according to His righteous Laws (think 10 commandments). That's why God has so graciously provided us forgiveness and righteousness through the crucified and risen Jesus. This aspect of God impending judgment makes John 3:16's offer of salvation all the better. The Righteous Judge has provided the solution. May every person reading this respond with faith in Almighty God and His gift of salvation in Jesus.
And today, let us "mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15) and "not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).
- The Washington Post "On Faith" panel answers the question, "How does your faith tradition explain (and respond to) senseless tragedies like the Virgina Tech shootings."
- Pastor John Piper's Desiring God site has an entry, "What to Say about Virginia Tech."
- Bible.org has a general article on "Why Is There Suffering."