My father, a man who spent much of his life in Connecticut, asked me a question. It was the same question that thousands, if not millions have asked in the last few days. As his voiced trembled and halted, I knew the question before it rang in my ears.
“Where was God?”
In time of tragedy there is not a single question that can be asked that has such a simple answer, yet is so difficult to accept. Many throughout history have asked this question during their own versions of Newtown, Connecticut. Even the heroes of the Bible were forced to ask the same question. Moses, during a period of slavery and murder, when countless children were murdered simply because a society was threatened by their race, asked God that very question. For the first time in recorded history God gave the answer.
Where God are you?
God was not absent during Israel’s troubles, nor was he absent in Connecticut last week. God was not pushed out of the building, helpless to intervene while one of his creations stalked the halls and mercilessly gunned-downed. God was not stopped because a tremendous evil had appeared from nowhere, an evil never before seen. God was not barred from the building because of legal decisions of the nation. God did not restrain himself from stopping the tragedy because he was mad at us as a town, nation, or planet. God wasn’t absent anymore than the sun or moon were. God was then as God is now and as he shall forever be. God is.
God was there when each child and adult breathed their last breath. God saw the glimmer of life leave their eyes. God saw the anger and pain in the shooter’s eyes each time he pulled the trigger. God saw it all, God felt it all. God experienced the tragedy deeper than myself or my father, more than the survivors and the victims. He stood next to the parents as they mourned their offspring, just as he has done billions of times before. God remembers crafting each of the children in his own hands, giving them the gifts and potential for greatness, knowing full well when their moment of passing would be. God felt the pain that set his child on a course for murder. God listened to the metallic click of each brass cartridge being loaded into the magazines that would soon be emptied in a torrent of fury.
God was there then as he is still now. Mourning with those who mourn, bringing peace to those who are ready, and wiping the tears from the faces of his children come home.
Neither this tragedy, nor any of the countless that came before, have ever driven God away. When his first children chose a course that would one day lead to dozens of kids being murdered in their New England classroom, he let them go. He knew they could do better, but he knew they would not. He chose to let them go anyway. He loved them, he loved them enough to let them live their lives.
For generations his children chose when their lives would end, as if they never even considered that what they had was a gift in the first place. Yet he let them live. Only once did God ever turn his face, only once did choose not to be there. Up on the cross when his own child, his own blood, was dying. Then and only then did he leave, knowing that to do so was the only way to let every child to come experience life everlasting.
God wasn’t gone from Connecticut. God is in Connecticut. God Is.