In the light of any unspeakable tragedy, like the recent movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo., one question is bound to be asked.
“Where was God?”
The question implies the Almighty was somehow absent from or ambivalent about such horrible acts.
Where was God when the alleged shooter, James Holmes, walked into the crowded midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” armed to the teeth and armored for battle, and opened fire on a theater full of innocent people?
Where was God when Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58?
Where was God when Jonathan Blunk, 26; Alexander J. Boik, 18; Jesse Childress, 29; Gordon Cowden, 51; Jessica Ghawi, 24; John Larimer, 27; Matt McQuinn, 27; Micayla Medek, 23; Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6; Alex Sullivan, 27; Alexander C. Teves, 24; and Rebecca Wingo, 32, were murdered?
Where was God when Holmes allegedly stood and picked off movie patrons as they tried to flee the chaos of the theater?
Where was God when a night at the movies, an entertaining interlude, a chance to put reality aside, ended in the most unreal, most horrible way?
We wish God would save us from the James Holmeses of the world, would intervene to prevent tragedies like the Aurora massacre.
God made the world, but he does not micromanage it. He does not pull strings like a heavenly puppeteer, moving us this way and that with a twitch and a tug.
Instead, he gave us free will, leaving us open to follow His teachings or our own basic and all too human urges, it’s our choice.
But the question remains. Where was God in Aurora?
He was there when Jon Blunk, a former Navy man, pushed his girlfriend, Jansen Young, on the ground and under her seat when the shooting started. Then he covered her with his body.
When the shooting stopped, Young tried to revive her boyfriend, but Blunk didn’t move. He couldn’t. He was already gone.
He was there when Alex Teves pushed his girlfriend to the floor of the theater as the bullets flew and covered her body with his, shielding her from the onslaught. She survived, he didn’t.
He was there when Matt McQuinn dove on top of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, when the shooting started, and when her brother, Nick Yowler, hustled her out of the theater. She was shot in the knee, McQuinn was killed.
He was there when the shooter’s assault rifle jammed. Had it not, more people undoubtedly would have died.
He was there in the actions police, firefighters and EMTs who swiftly responded to the terrible scene.
He was there in the skilled hands of the doctors and nurses who treated the wounded, as they tried to repair the shooter’s terrible handiwork.
He was there when the alleged shooter’s downstairs neighbor approached the door to his apartment, on her way to complain about loud music blaring from within.
She found the door unlocked and started to enter, but instead yelled that she was going to call the police. Had she opened his door, she would have set off a series of explosions that might not only have killed her, but everyone else in the building, as well.
He was, and is, in the response to the tragedy. Money is pouring in to help the victims of the shooting pay their medical bills or funeral expenses. Steve Smith, wide receiver for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, has pledged $100,000. He has no connection with Aurora and didn’t know any of the victims, but he felt led to give.
Warner Bros., the studio behind “The Dark Knight Rises,” has donated to charities supporting the shooting victims, while Hans Zimmer, the composer of “The Dark Knight Rises” soundtrack, has written a song dedicated to the victims of the tragedy. All proceeds from sales of the song will go to victims and their families.
And actor Christian Bale, who plays Batman in the film, visited shooting victims in an Aurora hospital, as did members of the Colorado Rockies baseball team.
A local car dealer donated $30,000 to the victims and $10,000 each to Aurora fire and police. Money continues to pour in to funds set up for individual victims.
A scholarship fund set up in the name of Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring sports journalist, has far exceeded its goal of $20,000 thanks in part to a $10,000 donation by the NHL Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. The fund stands at $34,000 and counting.
Comedian Rob Schneider, a “Saturday Night Live,” alumnus, will perform a benefit concert for shooting victim Caleb Medley in September at a Denver comedy club.
Himself an aspiring comic, Medley remains in critical condition after being shot in the head. His wife, Katie, gave birth to the couple’s son, Hugo, on Tuesday.
Good people, doing good things, in the face of unspeakable evil.
The darkness presses in and attempts to overwhelm the light of goodness, compassion, and love, but fails.
As John 1:5 tells us, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Never has, never will. That’s where God is, now and forever.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.