This past Sunday, a senseless act of violence was committed in Las Vegas that killed 59 people and injured at least 515 others. My heart has been heavy all week, and I’m guessing that yours has been too. Even though what is being called the deadliest shooting in U.S. history is tragic enough in its own right, I am further saddened to see comments and reactions reflecting the hopelessness that some of my friends are feeling. One friend asked, “Do you ever feel guilty for bringing children into this broken world?”
No, I don’t. Here’s why:We need to have realistic expectations for the world in which we live. You probably learned way back in Sunday School that sin entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and tasted the forbidden fruit. From the moment the fruit touched Eve’s lips, our world became a broken one. There are lots of examples of violence throughout history. In 332 BC, for example, Alexander the Great, who was incensed by the defense shown by the city of Tyre while he was trying to conquer it, had two-thousand Tyrians crucified on the beach. Two-thousand! And in the most humiliating and painful manner humans could devise. Much later in history, we cannot forget the cruel treatment of Africans who were kidnapped and shipped like chattel across the Atlantic to become slaves in the Americas… if they survived the horrific voyage. Last week, I had to stop watching an interview of a Jewish Holocaust survivor because it was just too horrific, and I knew I would have nightmares if I continued. Currently, my oldest son and I have been following the story of a group of Muslims in Myanmar who have been slaughtered, evicted from their homes (which were then burned), and then commanded to go to Bangladesh, a country that does not want this group on their soil either. I am not telling you all of this to depress you, but simply to make the point that from the very beginning, we have been living in a (very) imperfect world. Adam and Eve brought sin into it, evil has been here since the beginning, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Even though sin and violence are permanent fixtures of this world, that does not mean that we ever need to accept it, but more on that later…
Not only do we need to expect a degree of violence in this broken world, but we also need to have realistic expectations for our children. As parents, we want our children to live in the best world possible–a peaceful, loving world that reflects God’s own love for us. A world devoid of violence, pain, sadness, want, and darkness of any kind. There is a world like that, and it’s called heaven. Before our children can go there, many of them need to walk this broken earth first. Sometimes we parents take our desire to give our children “the best” a bit too far. We not only want their world to be peaceful and loving, but magical. (Pinterest-inspired birthday parties, anyone? I’m guilty as charged.) I think the goal should not be for our children to grow up in perfect conditions, but rather to be grateful for that which they are given, seek opportunities to bless those less fortunate themselves, pray for this broken world, and be a light to cast out the darkness.
My friend’s comment about not bringing children into a broken world was not the first time I heard such a sentiment. Almost a decade ago, another dear friend and I were conversing about children. (This was either before I was pregnant with my first or shortly into the pregnancy.) She stated, “I don’t know if I want children. I wouldn’t want to bring them into this crappy world.” These comments frustrate and depress me in equal measure because they are so completely barren of hope. Hope is God’s gift to us in spite of all the brokenness of this world, and it’s something that cannot be taken away from us unless we choose to allow it. We know that Jesus has already won the ultimate victory, but the enemy is still prowling, doing his best to turn God’s children away from Him before Jesus returns again. Satan’s hand is in everything dark and fear-inducing: nuclear threats, terrorism, pornography and drug addictions, broken families, and so much more. The enemy has won too many battles already. We CANNOT let him take away our hope. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose.
So how can we fight this battle? We can pray, trust in the Lord’s infinite wisdom and love, and keep our eyes fixed on heaven. Pray for everyone involved in the Las Vegas shooting, especially the victims and their friends and families. Pray for individuals who are considering violent acts like this so that they will choose a better path. (I don’t plan on looking into the background of the shooter, but I’d bet there’s some brokenness in his past. This wouldn’t excuse his actions by any means, but it reminds us to love each other well and follow God’s commands.) We can fight this battle by bringing children into this broken world, loving them as God loves us, and pointing them toward Him. God wants us to have children if it’s his will for us. As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it. Genesis 9:7. The Lord, in his omniscience, knew full-well that terrorists would fly airplanes into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He was completely aware that a sixty-four-year-old man would open fire from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino into a crowd of innocent people. He knows it all, and he told us to multiply anyway. If the “good” people of this world throw up their hands in despair, curl up in defeat, and refuse to populate, imagine the kind of world that will remain. Now that’s a world that I would really fear! I certainly don’t mean to be dismissive of the violence that has occurred and will continue to plague this world until the rapture; however, we cannot allow these things to consume us. Please don’t let the imperfections fill you with dread and cause you to see only the darkness.
Goodness and beauty abound. Go outside and let your eyes feast upon a radiant pink and gold sunset. Visit your local homeless shelter and notice how many people are willing to serve others. (Perhaps consider being one of them!) When your almost-one-year-old (Theodorbs!) stretches his arms out to you, pick him up, and kiss his chubby fingers as he nestles his silky cheek against your shoulder. Don’t ever give up hope.