"Where was God?"
After a few days reflection, I have decided perhaps this is the wrong question. Or, at least, a question in need of modification.
After any tragedy, whether small or large, this question about God is the natural question for believers to ask. If we believe in a loving and powerful God, then where was He in all of this pain, suffering, hate and evil? If God is who He says He is, surely, then, He would have done something to prevent it. To mitigate the pain. To help us.
And the danger here, I think, is not necessarily dis-belief, but altered belief. As C.S. Lewis put it after the death of his wife:
Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like...:
We aren't so much tempted to think God doesn't exist, but that He might, in fact, be monstrous. 20 children gunned down? Where WAS God indeed.
However, I think the better question is this: Where IS God?
We must acknowledge that what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary was monstrously evil. Personally, I can't help but think of those kids as kids I might have known in Cabin 30 and 31, our littlest campers. Kids to whom I would have given a Golden Toothbrush for a lost tooth. Kids who would have dressed up in proud costumes for Masquerade, or raced to the Barn for the Pig Chase. Even though these kids lived hundreds of miles from me, I know them, and I grieve for the loss of them.
But the terrible truth is this: Suffering happens every day. Perhaps not in such a concentrated, tragic, public way as what occured last Friday, but it's there. Such evil is not an isolated incident, unfortunately. Each day, in places near and far, Satan wages hard his war and inflicts his damage, seemingly at will. Innocents die every day, even if it isn't shown on CNN.
So, I think, our question should reflect this. Instead of asking "Where was God at Sandy Hook?" we must ask "Where IS God everyday?" We must settle in our mind the question of whether we believe God is who He says he is in the face of unrelenting and ubiquitous tragedy and suffering and evil. God didn't stop Sandy Hook from happening, just as He doesn't prevent countless acts of evil each day.
The answers are hard, and for many incomprehensible. Myself, despite having read many explanations (most of which I agree with on an intellectual level), I still don't understand fully why God allows such suffering. Who does?
(W)e should like to know the reason for the enormous permission to torture their fellows which God gives to the worst of men. C.S. Lewis (again)
But here enters Faith. I believe in a loving God. I believe in a God who can wrest goodness out of tragedy. I believe in a God who who is omnipotent, omniscient, and characterized by perfect love (who IS perfect love, in fact). I believe in a God who allows us to suffer, and who allows evil to trod the earth, and I also believe His ways are far above mine. Am I bothered by all of the evil and suffering in the world? Of course I am, particularly when the young and innocent are made to suffer. But my hope and faith rests in God:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.