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Hodges: After Newtown, the hope of heaven can bring us peace on Earth

Published December 20, 2012 5:32 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Newtown tragedy is spawning, once again, THE question: Why would God allow this to happen?

Especially to innocent children?

People of faith believe God is omnipotent, all-powerful. The scriptures also teach that God is love. Since God is omnipotent, he can prevent such tragedies. Because he is love, it stands to reason that he, too, detests senseless killings. But if God abhors evil and has the power to prevent it, why does evil persist?

Genesis tells us God created the world and everything in it. After he completed his work, he "saw all that he had made, and it was very good." At creation, the world was perfect; there was no evil.

But God created mankind and gave us free will. The reason, theologians believe, is that he desired a relationship with his creation that would be authentic. Thus, he allows us to choose between good and evil.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve exercised their free will and chose to disobey God. After the fall of man, our relationship with God was severed. Sin, and consequently evil, entered the world. From that moment, man was born innately sinful. It is that sinful nature that drives people to commit such unspeakable acts.

God does not intervene, but the scriptures teach that those who decide to be in relationship with him are destined for heaven, a place devoid of sickness, sorrow and evil. It is the hope of heaven that enables Christians to persevere through such painful episodes on Earth.

During Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, we are reminded of the hope that Jesus' birth brings. His life and, ultimately, his death and resurrection secure believers a place in heaven. We also reflect on his Second Coming; Jesus promised to return and restore the world to its original state of perfection.

Christmas is meant to be a time of joy. Instead, there is a community — indeed, a nation — grieving. The consolation we can try to give the Newtown parents is that each child is in a better place, and we who believe will see them again one day.

Contact Corey J. Hodges, pastor of New Pilgrim Baptist Church, at coreyjhodges@comcast.net.