What makes it seem so horrible? Is it the number which die and are injured? Is it the manner in which they die? Is it simply that we are not confronted with death on a daily basis? Perhaps each of these. Perhaps none of this. Still it is horrific. No one wants their loved ones to be the victim of death or injury at the hands of mentally unbalanced people. We assume they must be mentally deranged by the simple fact that they would perpetrate such violence. But even the mental state of an individual or group does not cause us to be horrified by such circumstances. It is horrible. And we wonder why it happens and why is it so horrible.
Millions of people die each year. In the United States alone over seven thousand people die each day. So it is not the sheer numbers that are horrific. That is over 300 each and every hour of each day in each week, every month of the year. That is the average. In some times or weeks the death toll would be drastically higher. We don’t care to consider our mortality. Nor do we relish the thought of our time on this earth being cut short by the choice of another. Especially when it seems to be such an arbitrary and selfish choice.
Whether we truly have any apparent control over our circumstances, we like to think we do. Laws are passed to provide the illusion of protection from the evil use of devices but provide little or no protection from the evil intent in the heart of humans. We eat properly and exercise regularly all in an effort to to enhance the quality of our lives or increase our longevity. We spend lots of bucks on self help, diet, personal trainers and nutritional supplements. If we are honest (big if), we acknowledge these efforts make the moment better but give no guarantees. “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” seems to be more than a euphemistic motto for many.
In a crisis we cry for help. We cry out to our relatives, our neighbors, our government, our international aid organizations and occasionally to our gods. When the help comes, we give thanks, plug the holes, right the sinking ship, mourn the losses and continue on with business as usual. But seldom do we give more than a momentary acknowledgement to events which do not personally impact us. We seem to take a “Not my circus, not my monkeys” view of other peoples disasters. At this point many will interject a self righteous exclamation of defense for their concern of their fellow man. However few would be able to assert their involvement in the rescue and restoration of tragedies outside of their immediate circle of influence.
Many will take to quoting the Bible when things get tough. It was Jesus who said “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me”, not the rebellious blasphemers who insisted He be crucified. We cry out for mercy and grace when we deserve neither. Yet, He sends both. The winds abate, the storms diminish, the carnage is limited to a few or at most a few dozen. And in every hour three hundred or so more un-tragic, non-crisis, less than horrific events befall human souls as they too die. The world at large is ignorant of who dies from what in the United States of America. Over half a million from heart disease or breathing ailments brought on by their own choices. Devastating to their families and loved ones. Withering to the hopes and dreams of a better future. As the families stand close by and and witness the horrific toll on the human body their own choices have made, we wonder why.
Why do we consider fifty plus people shot by a madman more horrible? Why is the impact of back to back high strength hurricanes worse than losing the one person who brought you so much joy? Why is it that we cannot understand the nature of life and death as designed by a good God. Why will we not worship Him daily and receive difficulties at His hand as well as good. Why have we determined the crisis of the moment deserves more attention the God who can order all things rightly for our good always? That is the most horrific event of all.