Finding Hope in a World of Horror

(Recently republished as A Place for Weakness)

In light of the atrocity that occurred last Friday, Dec 14, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I drew attention to a book over on my church’s weblog that speaks great comfort into unspeakably sad situations like this. Michael Horton’s book is not a theodicy as usually conceived, but in many ways it touches a nerve that traditional theodicies cannot. Here is a wonderful quote:

Ironically, it can be experience itself that calls our hand in this matter, forcing us to choose whether we will allow it to be the judge or the accused. It is actually a piece of good news that our experience does not have the last word, that even in the face of horrific evils, tragedies, temptations, and doubts, the supposedly obvious deliverances of experience can be mistaken; that God may be actually more present in saving mercies when our experience tells us he is most distant and unconcerned. This is a key point of the theology of the cross: God is most present precisely where he seems most absent. Again, this isn’t a general speculation, an easy way of accepting the situation despite all evidence to the contrary; rather, it is grounded in thhe empirical fact of God’s saving work in Christ. Both our questioning of God’s purposes and confidence in them are provoked by empirical reality. The events that prove God’s faithfulness occur on the same plane of history as those that challenge it. Therefore, it is the empirical events of the cross and resurrection, not of daily events whose meaning is not revealed to us, that demonstrates the reliability of God’s character. (pgs. 54-55)

And yet, as Horton notes elsewhere, this does not mean that we suddenly have the key for somehow viewing tragedy as really a good thing.

But at the end of the day, suffering is still an enigma, even to us. Yet it is only a problem because something in us knows that this is not the way it was meant to be, that there is something more, that there is a purpose for everything in the future. (pg. 49)

No book can sufficiently address all that we’re feeling right now as we grieve the horrific death of these 20 children and 6 adults. But I continue to find great comfort in the gospel promises that Horton so aptly describes in this book.

_______________________
Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church
Anaheim, CA