Last Saturday, April 20, was the 20th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School. Like many of us, I vividly remember the shock as the events unfolded.
As part of my research for my book If God Is Good, I interviewed and exchanged correspondence with many people who shared their stories and perspectives. One of those people was Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel Joy Scott was the first person killed at Columbine.
When Darrell looked back at his daughter’s murder, he said that years before, God had prepared him. He’d read Norman Grubb’s writings about the eye of faith that allows us to see through our worst circumstances to God’s purpose. Most people, Darrell told me, are look-atters. We should learn to become see-throughers.
Because Darrell had learned to think this way, he could, despite his incredible pain, see through Rachel’s death to a sovereign, purposeful God. Simply looking at the horror and apparent senselessness of Columbine would have paralyzed him, while seeing through it prompted him before God to carry on Rachel’s heart of ministry in reaching out to others.
Darrell’s view of God already had a firm place in his heart when Rachel died. He trusted from the first that God had a purpose in her death. While this did not remove his pain, it did provide solid footing from which he could move forward, trusting God instead of resenting Him.
I asked Darrell what we should do to prepare for evil and suffering. Without hesitation he said, “Become a student of God’s Word.”
He added, “Don’t be content to be hand-fed by others. Do your own reading and study, devour good books, talk about the things of God.”
When suffering and evil come our way, they’ll exert a force that either pushes us away from God or pulls us toward Him. The perspectives we’ve cultivated between now and then will determine our direction. In my experience, most Christians lack grounding in God’s attributes, including His sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, justice, and patience. We dare not wait for the time of crisis to learn perspective! The time to study these things in the Bible is now.
Now is the time to contemplate these words of God about the future that awaits us:
Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:3–5)
Browse more resources on the topic of suffering, and see Randy’s related books, including The Goodness of God.
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.