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"Where was God?"
by Terry Ellis

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“For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men.”

The shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last week brought a mocking dissonance
to all of our decorations, singing, and joy. A senseless evil screeched, and
we all stood back in horror. These eruptions seem to come more often,
and just when you think nothing could be worse, 20 small children and six of
their teachers are dead in a classroom. A classroom!

Indicting God for His lack of intervention is typical, easy and not altogether
fair. We typically say we just don’t have an answer to the question of evil.
That’s not quite true. We have some answers that can help.

First, evil is so strong, so massive, infecting all of us that by rights it should
have won a complete victory long ago. Any vestige of good should be weak or
altogether absent. The fact that good still exists indicates, at the very least,
that something is happening in the background, so to speak.

Second, good seems to rebound with a force greater than the original evil.
Thousands, probably millions of people who never knew these children,
teachers, or their families have poured out prayers and love. We have wept
with distant strangers who weep. This is a deeply remarkable and comforting

Third, the accusation that God just stands by, apparently uncaring is simply
untrue. The first two points indicate that something good is happening and
that obviously comes from God. The cross of Christ illustrates the deepest
mystery of this battle between good and evil. No more cruel, vicious, nefarious
act has ever been committed than the Son of God being crucified. The creation
turned murderously on its Creator.

Then God acted in a way that reflects His constant response to evil: He
redeemed it. Out of the worst, God brought the best. Not only did evil
lose, it lost ground. Jesus, throughout His life, experienced every kind of human
pain, and whatever pain we face today He joins with us and includes us in the
redemptive response.

People will never forget, or just get over any tragedy. All healing involves a
scar. But those people will learn to love and cherish life more deeply. I have
heard this testimony from Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Nickel Mines survivors.
God redeems pain.

So while we feel Longfellow’s despair in the first line of this column we
can also sing with deep conviction:“Then pealed the bells more loud
and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right
prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.’”

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Terry Ellis serves as Moderator-Elect  for CBF-LA and is Pastor at Broadmoor Baptist Church
in Baton Rouge.