First, this tragedy did not catch God by surprise. God did not cause it, but He did permit it. He is powerful enough to have stopped it.
Second, this tragedy is a symptom that something is incredibly wrong with the human race. In biblical terms, we live in a fallen world which is marked by sin in its manifold manifestations. To make matters worse, an evil presence in the world drives this entire enterprise. Jesus identified him as the "thief comes to kill, steal and destroy."
Third, the whole purpose of God coming in Christ was to redeem us from this fallen world with its symptoms and consequences. In this present age, we live in a world in revolt against God who, in His patience, is permitting the revolt all the while holding out His hands and beckoning humanity to return to Him. In God's timing, this world as we know it will come to an end, either with God's ultimate intervention (the time is unknown) or our personal departure (which is certain). Then, the God of the universe will right all wrongs.
Fourth, in the meantime, God stands ready to comfort, heal, forgive, restore and intervene when invited. Humanity must still deal with the consequences of sin, yet every act of sin with its painful consequences is one more invitation from God, "return to Me!" Only God can bind up broken hearts. Only God can heal this severe hurt. Only God can assuage this incredible grief.
Finally, if nothing else, this senseless tragedy is a wakeup call to how desperately the world needs its Savior who alone can free us from the "law of sin and death" and who alone can bring good out of such profound evil.
Jerry Sutton is vice president for academic development at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
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