Tragedies like the one at Virginia Tech today just keep on happening. I want this to be unusual and strange; it is not. Connect the dots, and it just gets worse from here.

The oddest thing that I heard today was a “Christian” on a Christian talk radio show expressing anger and concern that “liberals” would try to legislate this sort of thing away by passing tougher gun control laws. “You can’t legislate away human sin” he said. Indeed. But how bizarre that the 2nd Amendment would be his main concern on a day like today.

I am interested in total solutions. Are there any?

Isaiah describes a vision — not yet a reality — of a time when “the whole earth is at rest, and is quiet. They break forth into singing.” Micah sees economic prosperity and individual autonomy — and describes it as a situation where “none shall make them afraid.”

Other passages talk about the redress of past wrongs, the healing of past hurts such as the wanton executions of 33 students and faculty members today. Phrases like “wipe away all tears” and “times of restitution” and “all in the graves come forth” permit us to wonder if indeed a total solution is in the offing.

I am persuaded that it is; but it won’t be magic or simplistic. Jesus describes the real challenge when he teaches us about his judgment-day challenge of separating the sheep from the goats. Who are the sheep in that separation? Those who visited, fed, loved the insignificant folks. And who were deprived of life? Not those who murdered, stole, etc… but those who missed opportunities to serve, feed, or heal another — a much more searching requirement than I, or anyone I know, has ever really met.

Numerous judgment day scriptures speak of an iron rule, a time when righteous standards are enforced, and people learn righteousness. But Psalm 66 seems to describe it as a time when lots of folks will merely feign obedience — “Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to you.”
For those, the release of Satan for one last rebellion-mongering act will apparently flush out the remaining bad apples from the human race. If they harbor any latent selfishness, it will be exposed.

Of course, the present situation is just plain rotten, and full of heartache for everyone. All the conventional consolations fail. Were all these believers who God decided he wanted to have with him in heaven? Were most of them unbelievers who now can be a lesson to everyone else — repent before it’s too late? Are the fiances and siblings and parents and chidren of all these students supposed to click their heals and say with Pangloss, “This is the best of all possible worlds?”

The disciples of Jesus asked him about the roots of evil… in the case of a man born blind, who sinned — the man or his parents? Seemed logical to their minds — that if somebody was deformed in that way, it must be somebodiy’s fault.

The VA Tech triggerman. Was it his nature or his nurture that deformed him? Was he raised by bad parents, or defective since birth? Jesus’ answer is surprising: “Neither”. The reason for his sin is so that the works of God can be revealed in him.

All tears. From off all faces. All dead people. From out of every grave. Now, that’s a lot of transformation; a lot of sorrow-turned to joy, a lot of death -swallowed up in victory. Heartache is how the works of God will be revealed.