Ever since Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” anticipation for the next chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy had left Hollywood and American filmgoers abuzz. So it came as no surprise that when the release date for “The Dark Knight Rises” drew close, avid fans bought tickets weeks in advance and stood for hours in hopes of being the first to witness the final chapter in Nolan’s Batman legacy.
As midnight passed, movie-buffs all over the country began to settle into their seats, silence their cell phones, and reach for that buttery bag of popcorn. Yet, for patrons of the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado they had no idea of the inconceivable tragedy that lay in wait just moments ahead.
At approximately 12:37 a.m., just 20-minutes into the movie, witnesses say that a dimly lit figure clad from head to toe in body armor wielded three high-powered weapons, and turned a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” into his own twisted comic book nightmare. Having transformed himself into a self-styled Joker, the madman, 24-year old James Holmes began lobbing a pair of tear gas grenades into the sold-out theater early Friday morning before cowardly firing upon helpless moviegoers. In the wake of the aftermath, 12 people lay dead, and 58 others were left injured.
As a resident of Colorado, this tragedy has hit incredibly close to home. Our communities have been left reeling with many questions. While questions like how did this seemingly “nice guy” turn evil; or what was his motive? There’s one question, whether you are a believer or not, that seems to take precedence above all others. “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" It’s a question that could be one of the most challenging questions to answer in all of theology. Still, if we as Christ followers believe that our God is everlasting, limitless, and almighty, then why should human beings that are clearly not, presume that we could ever understand why God works the way He does?
If ever there were a story that dealt with this topic, most people would agree that there is no greater biblical account than the story of Job. In the story, Job, who is described as being a blessed man who lives a life of righteousness, becomes the focal point of a discussion between God and Satan. God’s admiration of Job provokes Satan to challenge Job’s faithfulness implying that Job only serves God because God blesses and protects him. In an effort to demonstrate Job’s faithfulness, God removes Job's protection; thus opening the door for Satan to take his children, his vast wealth, and to attack his health in an attempt to get Job to turn away and curse God. Throughout the story Job repeatedly laments about his difficult circumstances, for God allowed Satan to do everything to Job just short of killing him. Yet, despite all of his struggles, Job never wavers and in his own words provides the reasons he did not falter during the storm, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). Like many today, Job could not comprehend how a loving God would allow him to endure such trials and pain. Yet, Job knew that God was good and therefore he continued to trust in the Lord.
When hardships, tragedies, or the trials of life come our way, our questions should not turn to why God allowed the hurt to occur; but rather what is God trying to use it for in our future? Remember, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). While we can question why God allows bad things to happen, I challenge you to remember this quote. “God will not protect you from the things He intends to use to perfect you through.” We might not know in the interim why God is allowing these events to happen, but just like Job, we’re going to have to trust in Him.
I’m not saying that horrific things like the death of a child, cancer, rape, or in this case a senseless act of murder at the hands of a coward is something that can be easily dealt with. But God sometimes will use your own personal tragedy later in life as a way for you to minister to people who are going through what you've already been through. As Paul confirms, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Remember in your times of strife, God never wastes a hurt. One of the most overlooked factors in determining one’s personal ministry is past experiences, particularly past hurts and problems. It is in these tough times that we should, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Since our greatest life messages come out of our weaknesses and not our strengths, we should pay close attention to what we've learned in the "school-of-hard-knocks.”
There are many times in life where we may feel like throwing in the towel. Believe me... if you’ve read about my past, you know that I’ve been there. Yet, my prayer for you is that through faith in our Heavenly Father, His words will provide comfort to you and your family. For while we may feel a little emotionally beaten and bewildered temporarily. It is when you decide to take the journey filled with travesty, that God will empower you as the victor in overcoming your adversity!
In closing, may the Lord be with the families of those who have lost their lives or been affected by this tragic event. May He help them in this time of loss and overwhelming grief. Why this tragedy was allowed to happen to good and innocent people we truly don’t know. But now is the time when we must turn our eyes to our Heavenly Father as we seek to find the strength to trust in His faithfulness. I know that many hearts have been crushed, but I also know that we serve a God that will not abandon those who believe in Him. For He is the great comforter, and in this time of need, find assurance that He knows your pain and that He is with you... For it is in His word that we find His comfort, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Amen~
Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time...