The state of Tennessee was shocked yesterday morning to learn that a fourteen-year-old boy stepped on a school bus in front of his rural home, pulled a handgun and shot four rounds into the body of the female bus driver; a woman who, by all accounts was a compassionate, caring person.
young man managed to steer the rolling bus into a pole to prevent even further
physical risk to the children on the bus, who had just been traumatized by
seeing murder close up and personal. The children cared for each other, exited
through the back of the bus, as they had been trained to do in emergency drills,
and got to a telephone to call
The full story has not
yet emerged, but it appears the boy was angry because the bus driver had earlier
argued with him about using snuff while on the
It’s a sad story with many
deeply human issues.
I watched the
evening news last night with a sinking sense of frustration. A local pastor,
doing his best to come to grips with this terrible tragedy, attributed the
actions of the young man to God. God chose this moment to “call home” the bus
driver and he used the young man as his instrument to accomplish the
Clearly, the pastor
said, we cannot know or understand God’s purpose. We can only believe that in
God’s time all things work toward
I want to be as kind to this
pastor as possible, but I doubt that it is of much comfort to the families whose
lives have been so deeply damaged to attribute homicide to
We struggle with the meaning of
evil in the world. We seek to find God in the midst of despair. Recently, I
was part of an on-going conversation about the place of God in the tsunami
I believe the questions
are not only perplexing, they are beyond answer. The most I can do is follow
the biblical messages that say we are closest to God when we are at our most
vulnerable and exposed condition. Surely, tragedies such as this put us in that
But to attribute them to
God is to take a road I cannot take. The challenge is to find the presence of
God in the tragedy, not to desperately explain the tragedy as an act of God.
It’s in the healing, the comforting
and the supporting of each other in the pain that I believe God is manifest.
When life is turned upside down and we can’t find good answers, perhaps this is
enough. God is with us in our suffering.