It’s heartbreaking. Once again we must stand by helplessly and watch the tragic aftermath of a shooting. Last week masked gunmen broke into the French newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. This began a series of assaults over the next few days. When the smoke cleared, the wreckage left in their wake totaled up to seventeen dead and at least twenty-one more wounded. After days of disaster and a final nine-hour standoff with police, the killers rushed out of the building, opened fire on police, and were finally gunned down. Being Muslim extremists, they had stated a desire to die as “martyrs.”
Situations like these leave us with a sick, unresolved feeling (e.g. Columbine, 9/11, etc). We didn’t really catch the men. We weren’t able to punish them, throw them in prison, or let them contemplate their horrendous actions while sitting on death row. It almost feels like these men were able to “escape” their sentence by means of suicide. It feels unsettled and incomplete, and the feeling is awful.
Perhaps this is where the good news comes in. Yes, we are so very limited in what we can do after a situation like this. God, however, is not. In tragedies like these, the words of Romans 12:19 ring the loudest, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
These men may have escaped human judgment, but they cannot escape God’s. They will stand trial before the all knowing, all seeing, all powerful God and answer for their detestable actions. There will be no running, no hiding, no secrets, and no escape. It’s reassuring to know that “God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). No evil person is going to avoid God’s wrath.
Killings have happened and will happen again. At this point all we can do is continue to pray for those touched by this tragedy. Thankfully, everything else is left in God’s almighty hands.