If we learned nothing else from the attacks of 9/11, it is that we should not let the evildoers take away our sense of security, our sense of right and wrong, and our sense of confidence to go about our daily lives; the Aurora, Colorado movie massacre should be no different. As a mother, I bear an overwhelming sense of protection, yet as a Christian, I carry the responsibility of setting a Godly example: We are to fear God alone, obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him.
The Aurora tragedy has many asking, "Why did this happen? Where is God in this situation?" During these troubled times, it is important to remember the promises of love and refuge found throughout Scripture. Psalms 46:1-3 reminds us that God never leaves us in bad situations but instead, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea."
This verse does not promise that there will never be trouble; it shows that God will always be a constant presence, regardless of the circumstances.
As believers, we must help our children, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors see God's miracles amidst the chaos. Take Fox Denver's report that the gunman's largest, most deadly gun jammed. How many more lives were saved due to this mishap?
Another story relays God's love for the unborn, as an expectant mother made it out of the theatre with only seconds to spare. Baby Hugo was born four days after the massacre, and friends say he came into this world "loud and full of life" - "just like his daddy."
Then there is the story of one young Christian woman, Petra, that truly demonstrates God's prevenient grace. Petra was shot four times with the blast of a shotgun. One piece of buckshot struck through her nose and traveled to the back of her brain. Thankfully, the shots were not fatal and did not damage any major area of the brain. That's not all. Petra was born with an unknown brain defect, discovered during surgery, which allowed the buckshot to travel from the front of her brain to the back without touching a single vital portion. God's divine design of Petra's minor defect was a preemptive act of love and protection.
Another important lesson to be learned is how our children should respond to tragedy. This nightmare does not end when the gunman's victims and their families go home. Their lives will never be the same, and grief is a long process easier dealt with when surrounded by prayer and love.
This past Sunday, my pastor's sermon focused on turning the other cheek in spite of how another does us wrong. Turning the other cheek is a challenge for me. Needless to say, my emotions towards Aurora gunman James Holmes are a mixture of anger, frustration, and pity. Still, I know we are all instructed in Romans, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head."
Herein lies an important lesson for both children and parents: The content we put into our hearts and minds has serious consequences. The wrong influences can ruin our children's futures, and it is up to parents to protect what our children see in the movies, on TV, or in the video games they play.
According to Kaiser Family Foundation, children 8-18 years old consume nearly seven hours of screen time every day. Half of these children live in households with absolutely zero restrictions on the media they consume, and a mere 5% of parents actually watch the programs their children are watching.
The video game industry is an 18 billion dollar industry, with 89 percent of all games featuring violence as its main focus. Studies like the one conducted recently by Scot Wortley, professor at the University of Toronto's Center of Criminology, find that teens who routinely watch violence on television or conduct simulated shootings and bombings in video games will likely become hardened to the realities of their aggression.
Sadly, Holmes fits the profile of a desensitized video gamer. The Daily Mail reported he was obsessed with violent first-person shooter video games. We know the outcome of Holmes' fixation on violent media. Like Holmes, our youth are vulnerable, having their minds shaped by our culture, which portrays slaying as admirable, brave, and somehow validating their manhood. They're being desensitized to killing.
True bravery is found in the three men who threw themselves over their girlfriends, using their own bodies as shields to protect their girlfriends during this massacre. Three servicemen, Jonathan Blunk, Jesse Childress, and John Larimer, died protecting someone else. Our military men showed their true character this weekend, and these are the examples to which children should be exposed rather than fictional video villains.
This senseless act of violence is a sobering reminder that life is short, faith is pivotal, and evil is real. What happened in Colorado provides a stark contrast between two vastly different mindsets, two different valuations of life. But in the midst of this tragedy, beautiful stories of courage and bravery have also emerged. While we try to explain the meaning of evil to our children, a key part of helping them to renew their minds is to make sure they hear these stories of hope. We live in a broken world that desperately needs to hear this message of renewal and love, and it is at times like this we need to present the Good News of the Gospel, which is the ultimate example of love and sacrifice.