Ecclesiastes 2:17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
The horrendous mass-murders that took place last week in Norway shocked the world. Norway, after all, is known to be one of the most peaceful and tolerant nations on the planet. The Norwegian people are known for their openness and friendship, as well as their care of the environment and community. The murders devastated the whole nation and we are all grieving because a noble people have been terribly wounded.
The shooter’s hatred for life and all things different from him displayed a wickedness and callousness that can only be described as satanic and inhumane. The pain and torture that he inflicted upon his young victims is hard to fathom or understand. In his heart and mind, he probably thinks that he is a crusader hero to his chosen cause. In reality, he is a monster whose murderous ways will not go unpunished either by society or by God.
Almost all of these kinds of shootings are perpetrated by angry men. They are incapable of controlling their anger or of analyzing what is real. Just this weekend, another shooting with multiple deaths took place in the US at a skating rink where children were having a birthday party. The shooter killed his ex-wife and a few of her relatives before turning the gun on himself.
I don’t like guns, either here or abroad, but I can’t stop people from possessing them. I would however say that every three years, gun owners should have to go through a compulsory anger-management class, possibly run by the local sheriff’s office. I also believe that young men in High school should also have to go through anger-management courses before they are allowed to graduate. This might cut down the number of irate boyfriends hurting, injuring, or killing their ex-girlfriends.
Some people will say that you cannot legislate against angry feelings; I would argue, however, that you can provide people with coping mechanisms and emotional knowledge to counter this kind of hatred, anger, and destructiveness.
Yesterday in church, we read the prayer for Norway that was written by the World Council of Churches. The concluding line of the prayer speaks directly to this kind of terrible and violent tragedy. May it also be our prayer for today:
These prayers and the heavy silence of our hearts we offer in the Name of Your Son Jesus Christ who trod the path of peace in the face of violence. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.