Posted by: everynation | April 19, 2007

Like a punch in the gut…

by Jed Walker

jed.jpgWhen I turned on the computer Monday, I felt a sensation that I have felt only on a few occasions. The consequence of simply reading a news story made me feel like I had been punched in the stomach.

I didn’t just read it, I felt it. I’m talking of course about the horrific events that took place Monday at Virginia Tech.

I’m so sorry for the families of those whose lives were taken so brutally. I’m sorry for their classmates who face the daunting task of returning to the dorms and classes while trying to go on with the demands of student life. I’m sorry for the police and school officials who will long feel the scrutiny and pain of how this tragedy might have been averted if they’d responded differently.

My prayer is that God’s redemptive power would be experienced by all those who’ve been affected by this horrific event.

As I’ve prayed and thought through the situation, I keep arriving at several lingering thoughts. First, life is so precious and yet so fragile. Our human frailty, our vulnerability to disasters of life and death magnitude is constant. In America, and especially on our college campuses, we are often removed from the brutal realities of this truth.

When you are young and privileged (this comes with being a college student), it can be so easy to take life for granted. People die at a staggering rate all over the earth. Our comfort and preoccupation with our own world often shields us from the emotion of this, but the intense pain resonating in Blacksburg, VA on Monday was dramatic, certainly tragic, but not unique.

Second, evil is alive and well. While many college professors might persuade us with notions of moral relativism, real life will not allow us to. An interesting consequence of the fact that the shooter took his own life is that there will be no manhunt, no public and drawn out trial, no vengeful and just sentencing. No tangible villain remains from this massacre; except the villainy of what human beings are capable of.

Despite our education, our progress, and our alleged evolution above the rest of creation, we are capable of shocking evil. We are reminded of this in less spectacular fashion every day, yet unless it comes directly at our expense we tend to overlook it.

Finally, a crisis like this acutely and emotively reminds us of the hurts and needs of our fellow man and our surprising ability to meet those needs. As a parent, I can’t imagine a more painful scenario than enduring the suffering and premature death of your child. Nothing can undo what’s been done, but loving communities can carry people through enormous grief and tragedy.

One of the most awe-inspiring things about God is His willingness to delegate loving arms and comforting words to other people instead of doing it directly Himself. It’s as if His participation is exponentially catalyzed when received through the participation of someone we can see, touch and respond to.

As I’ve arrived at these thoughts repeatedly over the past 36 hours or so, I keep asking God to help all of us learn the significance of these truths apart from the painful reflections that rise from this kind of tragedy.

I want us to savor this beautiful gift we call “life,” I pray that we will refuse to disregard the reality of evil, and I’m determined to be part of a people that regularly participates in healing redemption for their neighbor, their community and those in need.

Jed Walker is a Spiderman afficionado and the Director of the Every Nation School of Campus Ministry in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Responses

  1. Awesome thoughts!

  2. Well framed up Jed – great thoughts


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