The people of Calgary and surrounding area have been shocked at the stabbings near the University of Calgary. We ought to pray for the families and friends of the victims. But what should we pray? How should we think about this tragedy? How should we talk about this horror with our friends and family? The stark reality of evil is staring us in the face once again this week.
We should not speculate about the details. The Bible (and life interpreted through good, gospel theology) teaches us that sin and evil are capable of profound harm. This same theology teaches us that every human being is made in the image of God and is incredibly valuable. God’s creation still bears the marks of His goodness, but it is a fractured, twisted image. We must keep this tension in mind. God is sovereign. He is good. The time for ultimate judgment is not yet. Don’t try to sort out the motives of the perpetrator or any of the other details of that terrible night. Grieve for those whose lives are permanently changed. Pray that those left behind will run to God and “Ask, seek and knock” until He answers them.
We should talk about this tragedy, however. Christians, of all people, should be able to face evil and talk clearly about it. Every religion and every human being faces the problem of evil. God’s Word, particularly as it reaches its summit in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, teaches us about evil and about God’s ultimate response of Good. Tomorrow is Good Friday. What does Good Friday have to do with the untimely death of five young people?
Often the first reaction when something awful happens to people who believe in God is a loss of faith in the goodness of God. They believe that God exists, but they feel that they can’t trust him. They don’t believe that He is good. There are many people who are very conscious of the reality of God but because of some bad thing that happened, they shake their fist at him and will not worship or follow Him. This is why a generic belief in God is not enough. It will not withstand the storms of life.
The rock under the feet of Christians is the Gospel. When we doubt God’s love, when we question His goodness, we must look to the cross. When the evidence in our own experience suggests that evil is winning or has won, remember that God came down. The Eternal Son did not have to leave the glories of Heaven and perfect, immediate fellowship with the Father and the Spirit, but He did. He took on human flesh out of love.
What did it cost our Lord to come and not only face evil, but to take up the curse that rests on creation and bear God’s holy wrath in our place? What did it cost the Father to send His only Son as Saviour of the world? What Christ suffered on the cross is not only an answer to the problem of evil, it is the solution to the problem of evil. It is in Christ’s atoning death as the substitute for sinners and through His bodily resurrection on the third day that suffering, death and evil are finally vanquished. It is only through the finished work of Jesus Christ that we can confidently say, “God is Love. God is Good.” If we understand this, nothing can shake this sure hope that we have for all eternity.
As we talk to people about the terrible events in Calgary this week, pray that God will give us opportunity and courage to declare this truth. There is no hope without it.