It is so difficult to know what to say in the face of such tragedy. Often, well meaning people offer words of comfort that can feel like less than adequate responses to the violence that has occurred. As Christians, we need not shy away from facing the harsh reality or offer platitudes—but instead we can be bold to call out the injustice and cry out with those who suffer for an end to violence. Our faith compels us to seek reconciliation rather than retaliation, and to work for peace in the world.
In a world where fear and violence seem so prevalent, it is easy to wonder why God allows such things to occur. When we learn that a Christian man was killing innocent people—children—we may ask “Where was God?” We demand to know why did God not intervene. So often it can seem as though God is distant and disconnected from the suffering we experience, yet God stands beside all who suffer, and God draws us and all creation into a future of compassion and peace. Lutheran Christians admit that we just don’t know why these things happen, or why it can seem like God is so distant just when we need God the most. At the same time we know that God is with all those who suffer, that suffering is not a sign of God’s absence, and that God’s presence and favor can not be judged by how well things go for us.
2000 years ago, St. Paul wrote a letter to the Christians who lived in Rome—a city where violence was very prevalent. He encouraged them to trust in God despite the suffering they were enduring with these words: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
We are called to continually remind one another of the love of God from which nothing can separate us, to reject hatred and violence, and to embody together the vision God has for all creation. And so we join with God in solidarity with the people of Norway and all who suffer. We join in mourning the loss of life and in lamenting this great tragedy. And we lift up our voices in prayer and renew our commitment to work for peace and justice in the world.
May the peace of Christ be with you in your struggles as well.
+Rev. Erik Samuelson
Trinity Lutheran College