25 September, 2022

Why Doesn’t God Stop School Shootings?

by | 1 September, 2022

By Wes Beavis 

“Why doesn’t God stop school shootings?” It’s a valid question. Many philosophers would add these follow-up statements: Either God is not a loving God or God is not all-powerful. (Surely a loving God would supernaturally intervene to protect the innocent lives of defenseless schoolchildren, they reason.) If a loving God does not intervene, then he obviously lacks the power to do so. Therefore, God must not be omnipotent. (It sounds logical.) 

MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL 

A tragic event like the unthinkable massacre of schoolchildren generates an understandable emotional response. Part of this response is to try and make sense of it all. To fix it so that it doesn’t happen again. The faith community often responds with the words “thoughts and prayers.” Secularists become annoyed and incensed at the offering of “thoughts and prayers.” They consider thoughts and prayers to be feel-good statements that give the impression of action but which really are “do-nothing” sentiments that keep the status quo in place.  

Secularists believe that government action is the solution to stopping bad people from committing abominable cruelty. They believe that human nature is changed through legislation, not through prayer. They believe that if prayer worked, if God were real, then God would intervene. He would stop these heinous atrocities perpetrated by angry young men.  

HOW GOD INTERVENES  

However, God does intervene. He does stop angry young men. Just not in a way that overrides free will. I believe God intervenes and stops more troubled boys than we realize. I wholeheartedly believe this because I was one of them—an angry young man who lacked the ability to moderate his emotions and mental states.  

As a 6-year-old, in a rage of jealousy, I slammed the business end of a garden rake into my brother’s head. He was rushed to the hospital where surgeons stitched his scalp back together. Some years later, fueled by insecurity and the desperate need for peer approval, I beat up my best friend at school. I picked on him because he was weaker than me. Two weeks prior to graduating from junior high, I got caught vandalizing a school bus. The school district did not press criminal charges but would not allow me to proceed to high school until I remediated the damage to school property.  

That summer, bored and stupid, I started a fire that ravaged the Fort Creve Coeur Nature Preserve. The fire caused immense damage and cost to the community. That stunt conferred upon me a police record of juvenile delinquency. While grounded for the entire summer, I entertained myself by using stale bread to lure birds into my backyard. I would then shoot the defenseless birds with a BB gun. I had no remorse in killing these beautiful creatures. It made me feel powerful.  

Was I a school shooter in the making? I don’t know. Let’s just say my behavioral trajectory would have been a concern to any adolescent psychologist. Perhaps if additional layers had been added to the mix—absentee alcoholic parents, endless hours of playing violent video games, social isolation, social media bullying—I could have become a significant threat to society. Who knows where I would have ended up, had God not intervened.  

So, how did God intervene? In several ways. Over several years. Through several people. 

HOW THE CHURCH HELPED ME

My Sunday school teacher witnessed me blow a gasket because things were not going my way and said to me, “Wesley, you have a mean streak and a bad temper. That makes God sad and Satan glad. I’m praying for you to learn self-control.”  

Old Mr. Herring, a church elder, also noticed I was struggling. He took me under his wing and taught me how to fish.  

Mr. Huebsch, a church member, gave me lessons on how to become a backyard corn farmer.  

My youth pastor, Philip Wood, believed I had potential if I could just find a constructive outlet, so he offered to teach me guitar. One of the first songs he taught me was “Jesus Is the Answer.”  

George Melton baptized me and inspired me to use music as a ministry.  

John and Sarah Morgan, as a way of supporting my parents, became a second dad and mom to me. They were fun, down-to-earth Jesus followers and I felt liked and loved by their entire family. 

I am also thankful I had parents who, despite the grief I constantly brought them, were patient and long-suffering. They never gave up on me despite the many sleepless nights I’m sure I caused them. They encouraged me to pursue a life of serving Christ. And I eventually got there! 

WES BEAVIS

These are just a few of the people who prayed for me and helped me find my way to redemption. I was influenced by people who were under the influence of Jesus. God used them to interrupt my troubling trajectory of antisocial and destructive behavior.  

Today, as a Christian clinical psychologist, I am the opposite of destructive. Instead, I help people navigate their challenges and find peace amid life’s uncertainties. It took many years, but I radically changed from aggression to compassion. I was on a trajectory of being a threat to society, but God intervened. How? Through the thoughts and prayers of his saints. 

WHAT WE CAN DO

In the quest to stop school shootings, is there a place for stronger regulations and procedures? I believe it is worth reflecting on and exploring what is helpful in reducing these tragedies. But let’s not forget that God uses the thoughts, prayers, and actions of dedicated Christ followers to change troubled young men into grace-filled, godly leaders.  

Let’s double down on our efforts to reach kids with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. For every young man who invites Jesus to be his Lord, there is one less young man on a dark trajectory toward destroying innocent lives.  

Dr. Wes Beavis has served as a pastor in Restoration Movement churches in both the United States and Australia. He is also a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in helping ministry leaders navigate the leadership journey. His latest book is Let’s Talk about Ministry Burnout: A Proven Research-based Approach to the Wellbeing of Pastors.  

Wes Beavis

Dr. Wes Beavis has served as a pastor in Restoration Movement churches in both the United States and Australia. He is also a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in helping ministry leaders navigate the leadership journey. He has clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating the symptoms of ministry burnout, depression, anxiety, and helping ministry leaders transform negative stress into positive stress. His latest book is Let’s Talk About Ministry Burnout: A Proven Research-based Approach to the Wellbeing of Pastors.

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