“A great darkness has descended upon the land …” is an opening line, in some form or another, in countless books and movies. The recent news might make us think that the words are true. The school shooting in Florida is as dark as news can get. The carnage imposed on the students and teachers by one of their own is nothing short of pure evil. The talking heads on TV came out in full force. The blame began immediately and continues as I type. Regardless of your political point of view, we must do more to protect our students. There is no place in civilized society and in the wealthiest country in the world to allow this to continue. There are tens of thousands of fingers pointing and numerous people and organizations being blamed. We are all saddened to the point of despair and searching for meaning. We have problems that are systemic that must be addressed and there are no simple answers. Ultimately, it was the shooter alone who walked into the school and pulled the trigger ... but why?
Life is a like a yin yang.
On the day when 17 families lost a loved one in a senseless act of violence, other families rejoiced at the birth of a new family member. While a person received the devastating news that their cancer is incurable, another received the joyous words that they are now cancer-free. While a marriage sadly ended in divorce court, down the hall in the same building, the justice of the peace said to a loving couple committing their life together, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Some have food and a roof over their head, others do not. Where there is love, there is also hate close by. Where there is prosperity, there is despair next door. This is all part of the human existence. We wish it were not so, but so it has always been, so it shall always be.
Human search for meaning
At one point or another, we all must be asking ourselves, “What does it all mean?” We are all shaped by our core belief systems. Like you, my core beliefs shape who I am, what I do and how I respond to life’s challenges.
I believe we become like those we spend the most time with.
I believe we create what we focus upon.
I believe happiness is a choice and our desires can be achieved if we are willing to pay the price.
I wasn’t raised in a churched home, but became a man of faith 25 years ago. My beliefs, like yours, shape my views of what life is. My faith leads me to interesting and hopeful conclusions.
The news this week has been full of people asking similar questions.
“Why did God do this?”
The only response I have is that “God didn’t pull the trigger.”
The next question is often, “Why did God allow this to happen?”
My only response is, “God has given us free will and we are flawed and broken people. I believe God’s heart also breaks at times like these.”
I don’t have any answers besides these, but I do know that it is only my faith that keeps me from falling into complete despair when tragedy strikes. It is my faith that shapes and creates my core beliefs. Without faith, I would have no idea what to make of any of it.
A fascinating read
One of the most overlooked books of the Bible is titled Ecclesiastes and it is not at all what you’d expect. The opening words are “Meaningless! Meaningless! says the teacher. Utterly meaningless!” as he talks about life. People I know, or I’ve met along my journey, whether people of faith or not, have taken comfort in reading Ecclesiastes.
Arlene and I were at a comedy show one evening, when after the comedian did his routine, he said, “I’m happy to be here, well, no ... I’m happy to be anywhere!” The crowd giggled, believing it was part of his routine, but it was not. He went on to share that five years ago, he was in a hotel room, high on drugs and drunk on alcohol when he decided to take his life. He had suffered a devastating divorce and loss of custody of his only child and was in the unbreakable grip of addiction. He continued, saying “I had never in my life read a single word of the Bible but opened the night stand drawer and found one. For some unexplained reason, I cracked it open to Ecclesiastes. The ancient words saved my life.”
He said he began reading, then laughed aloud saying to no one, “What in the hell is this doing in the Bible?” The comedian went on to acknowledge that the words did not take away all his pain and despair, but helped him put life in perspective.
There is a season for everything
Its been a very difficult week for our nation and an impossible week for the families of those slain. I wish I had answers. All I know for sure is that when half of the earth descends into darkness, the other half is bathed in beautiful sunlight. Life is ever-changing. The darkness never stays.
Gary W. Moore is a syndicated columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com