Like most of you, I haven’t said much about the tragedy last week at Newtown. I think part of the reason is the disgust of the motto of most news agencies (“better to be first than be right”) and the biblical principle of being silent when devastation happens (“Job’s friends sat with him for 7 days. No one said a word because they saw his great suffering.” – Job 2:13).
“I don’t know” is perhaps the best and only phrase to use when it comes to circumstances like these. Just being there to show solidarity is our only choice. “I don’t know” is the conclusion to the book of Job – we never get a clear answer for why he goes through those horrendous circumstances. “I don’t know” is a powerful moniker not only in theology, but science. It admits our limited mental bandwidth and provides a solid starting place for us to see if we, at least, can come to some understanding.
The closest biblical example I could think of relating to the Newtown tragedy comes from Mark 5:
22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him…
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
…38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Astonishing story. What was the little girl sick with? Dysentery? Smallpox? Why did God allow that? “I don’t know.” But Jesus raised her, as He will all the precious Newtown souls. We may not know, but we are known. And have the staggering promise that He will put everything right in due time. Until then, we grieve. And are quiet.