Once again, I found myself struggling with others to make sense of a senseless event. Why does God allow such awful things to happen? And why do we allow such horrible things to happen when commonsense measures could, if not entirely prevent them, at least reduce their number? There is, of course, no satisfying answer.
But I found peculiar comfort in a line I read in a book by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon called Resident Aliens (1989). They don’t explain the problem of evil, but they remind us of what the Church can do in such times. They write: “The only way for the world to know that it is being redeemed is for the church to point to the Redeemer by being a redeemed people” (94). In the face of tragedy, Christians are called to remember that this is God’s world and that God is in the process of redeeming it. Our task is to point to the Redeemer in the most compelling way we can, by living as a redeemed people.
Whatever else it means to live as a redeemed people, it includes refusing to give in to bitter despair or hopeless apathy over evil. Instead, where we can, we help. And if we cannot help in more tangible ways, we can at least continue to gather for prayer and worship, to remind each other of the reality of God’s grace and love, and to commit ourselves to living as God’s people in what will always be God’s world.