The families of the victims, and all who knew them. The survivors. The family of the shooter. So much trauma that will take a lifetime of years to heal. The shooter himself. What broke him to this point of insane hopelessness? No healthy person wakes up one morning and decides to plot a massacre.
I wonder if God ever regrets His vulnerable, loving choice to entrust us with free will? Most of the time, I understand His wanting friends and co-collaborators instead of puppets. But when human will goes rabid and we hate and destroy each other, I can't help but wonder if I'd rather live under a dictator than a Father.
I confess, sometimes I am angry at Him. As if this messy, hurting world is His doing instead of ours. But it is our doing, Lord have mercy.
And even the space of one day is crammed with breath-taking proof of this consoling truth:
God has not abandoned us in the mess we've made. His presence is still here. With us. On this planet. Walking the streets and fields of our neighborhoods. His hands are still at work.
While I was still wondering why God lets us choose to hurt each other, I was telling one of my teens how proud I was of her. Her determination to inflict as much pain as she has received is gone. She stands proudly, bright face and clear eyes. Her pride in her new determination to make choices that respect both herself and the people around her is vibrant and evident.
During a training session on mental health diagnoses, one of my favorite co-workers told his story of grief, loss, and teen years in lock-up. He's overcome behavior disorders, dyslexia, and lack of parental support to become one of the kindest, safest people I know.
A phone call from a friend left me in awe and worship. Prayers for change and wholeness in the lives of people I love are years in the answering, but here they are.
Maybe I can't understand why God doesn't intercept human will when it wreaks swathes of horror, but I know this: He is still at work, calling us into relationship with Himself and with each other. Relationships that shape our wills into our greatest empowerment for wholeness.
There aren't quick fixes and easy answers for suffering. There simply are not. But there is a God of patience, dirty hands, re-shaped lives, and a sort of wholeness that is a beautiful offering to others.
God is still at work. And we get to choose to help Him.