I have spent the last few days pondering deeply over the horrors surrounding the recent school shooting in Nashville, TN. This is not the first school shooting. However, there was a unique resonance that occurred for me as I considered its location and the victims. The first reason was that this occurred on the grounds of Covenant Presbyterian Church and at their attached school, Covenant School. The second was that one of the three students murdered was the pastor’s daughter, nine year old Hallie. The third was that this church is a part of our very own denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. I am a pastor, and one who counsels, and have daughters of my own, and so, in many ways all of this felt very close to home. Pastor Scruggs, in the midst of mourning the loss of his little girl shared this simple statement, “Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again.”
As is the custom of our political moment, there has been no lack of individuals utilizing this tragedy to broadcast their own particular agendas for and against gun-control. Blame shifting has occurred from the Left and the Right, from conservatives and progressives alike. Both are certain that they are right. Both are certain that the other side is monstrous for their position. One thing is certain: no amount of legislation will ever raise these victims from the dead. No amount of legislation will perfectly stop evil.
Responsibility has become an ugly word. It is not welcome to the table in matters like this because of the complexities of life. But sinful men and women will always perform according to their nature unless acted upon by Another. Our world denies sin, yet we see speak of tragedy. Our world denies an authoritative standard true to all men and women, yet we hear speeches appealing to some universal ethical ideal that cannot be accounted for. Our world claims that life is the product of time, chance, and death; yet for some reason, whenever we are confronted by death, we do not treat it as if it is an ordinary fixture in our world, but always as loss.
In a recent news report there are comments that the shooter, Ms. Audrey Hale, “was reportedly hunting down the pastor she was receiving counseling from but instead killed his daughter when she could not find him.” (https://www.yahoo.com/news/nashville-school-shooter-hunting-pastor-172723647.html)
How do we have words when are faced with such horrors? Are we so simplistic to believe that more control and more legislation will prevent evil when it seeks us out and our children? The issue is not mental health issues, or gun-control, for people have been killing each other well before the invention of firearms. We would remember this if history was a priority. There are countless ways to take a life. But there is only one way to conquer death, to give true and lasting comfort to the broken-hearted, and to answer the cries that sob in the darkness: the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our dissatisfaction with this answer betrays our ignorance of the affair as a whole. We were not made to die. The reason murder is a horror to the human heart is because we are made in God’s image, and He is life itself. We are meant to reflect Him. Every time we deny this, we continue our two-step with Death wondering why our dissatisfaction lingers, as we seek new gods made after our own image. The resurrection of Christ silences Death’s cold grip. It in fact impales Death on the cross, casting it into Christ’s tomb. But Death is still alive, though its breath is becoming ever so faint. Christ is still to come.
It is fitting then that we return to Pastor Scrugg’s words, “Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again.” Pastor Scrugg is not hoping in generic optimism, nor the future progress of society, but instead in our resurrected and exalted King, the Lord Jesus. He will come again to right every wrong, to judge the just and the unjust. And on that Day we shall see with our eyes the restoration of all things, the great renovation of creation for which we all long for. Every time we see these tragedies and cry out to God, we are longing for His renovation and the consummation of Christ’s Kingdom. We are longing for the new heavens and the new earth.
Heaven will not be found in ourselves, or honoring our wishes above all, but in honoring Christ. He is the King, and we are not. It is to Him that we must fly. Therefore, we have a duty as creatures made in His image to remember regardless of how dark and hopeless our world appears the Sun of Righteousness is coming to undo the frigid darkness which we see at work in our world today. Christ shall be victorious, “For He must reign until He has put all his enemies under His feet. The Last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26 ESV) Therefore let us mourn, let us seek real change in our communities, but this change happens, not with a piece of paper, but with our hearts as they are presented unto Christ swiftly and promptly for His glory.