“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it … We have become numb to this.” President Obama said this statement Thursday night after the shooting in Oregon. Once again lives of innocent students were taken from us—all of which where young people professing their faith in Jesus Christ. The gunman demanded the people to stand if they were Christians, and at that point the victims had a choice: Deny Christ and live or chose Christ and die. It was that simple.
Most of us will make decisions today about where we will eat, what route we will take to get home, what chore we will accomplish…if we will take a nap or watch the game. It is rare that we ever have to make a decision on which the fate of our life rests. Yet for nine people on Thursday, this life or death decision was forced upon them. For hundreds of other people, the pull of the trigger started a storm of life filled with blasts of confusion, grief, sorrow and pain.
I’ve been there, standing on the grassy fields of a new battle ground as the world around spins into a whirlwind of chaos and a vacuum of hope is created. I was a Junior in High School when the Columbine shootings happened. I was attending Arapahoe High School, five miles away as the crow flies, and leading a student led ministry that started prayer groups and bible clubs on campuses. The Columbine Bible Club was one of the largest Bible Clubs in our network. I will never forget the day after the shooting, with yellow tape still hung and bodies not yet removed, we met in the park next to the school and cried out to God for hope, help and clarity.
Why does this keep happening?
There have been 31 mass shootings like the one in Oregon this week since the Columbine shooting in 1999. That is 31 shootings with more than three victims. There have been 142 shootings on school campus just since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown in December of 2012. With every pull of a trigger a new storm starts in someone’s life. Sadly, Obama is right, “Somehow this has become routine.”
The Oregon shooting stands out above all the rest as a clear challenge against Christians. Mental illness or not, the shooter was all about taking out those who claimed Christ, and the power of darkness was on his side.
What is a Storm of Life?
Storms don’t always come in the form of shooting. We face life’s storms all the time. A storm of life is a set of unexpected circumstances or a change of events that challenges our faith. For the most part, these are first world problems, things that affect our “quality of life” and send us into a whirlwind. It is in these moments where we are either pushed from God or pushed to God; our faith is strained or strengthened.
Here is The Forecast of Common Storm in our life:
First there are storms of calamity—these involve the loss of someone or something we love. This can be our dog being hit by a car or a loved one dying in a car accident. Most loss comes without notice; the furious squall comes up over our life when we least expect it and all things that were considered “normal” are now meaningless to us.
Second there are the storms of change—these storms are particularly hard for those who long for safety and security in their circumstances. The loss of a job, the change of a friendship, the ebbs and flows of the financial market, are all examples of storms that are found in the category of change.
Third are the storms of confinement—these are the storms that have us backed up against a wall with no way out. I think of the Israelites with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh and his army behind them. With no way out, they find themselves in a storm of confinement; trapped by circumstances that would take a miracle to breakout of. Medical debt, a roommate gone bad, kids that stole from you – these are examples of things that confine a person and only take time and a miracle to reconcile.
Finally, there are the storms of consequence—these storms come as a result of bad or sinful decisions. God promised our eternal forgiveness, but He never promised us complete freedom from all consequences of our actions. We get this wrong as Christians; we assume that there are hall passes and pink slips that excuse us from the mistakes we’ve made. That is not true. The grace of God does forgive us eternally, but we still have to walk through the outplay of our bad decision. All the while we can trust that God will give us grace if we walk humbly and with thanksgiving.