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Tragedy and the Providence of God

In light of the events of this past week I decided to step out of our study of the book of Genesis and address instead the topic of tragedy and the providence of God. God's goodness and God's power often come into question at a time like this. I've not had opportunity to verify the details of this story, but I will tell it to you as it was told to me.

Craig Scott of Columbine High School was in the library this past Tuesday with his friend Isaiah. Two students entered that room, armed. In front of Craig's eyes they shot Isaiah and moved on to kill others. Craig and some of the others pretended they were dead until the gunmen left. Then, I'm told that Craig stood and pleaded with the other students to also get up and make an escape. Hearing a plea for help, he reached down to assist Casey Ripsager of our church and help her out as well.

When after much difficulty they finally reached safety, Craig asked them to pray. He asked them to pray for the students, their friends and brothers and sisters, who were still in the school. For the next many minutes they prayed and they watched as one after another those for whom they had prayed came out of the school. As each one came out Craig would comment on how God answered prayer. Well, I think most of you know that Craig's sister did not come out. She died Tuesday.

Some made it out alive. Other's didn't. Craig prayed and it looked like his prayers were being answered, except the prayer that was most important to him. The prayer for his own sister. How do you make sense of that? How do you put that in any kind of perspective? How do we respond? What are we supposed to think? How does God fit into that, since God's name had been raised?

The tragedy at Columbine High School this past week ...

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Jerry Nelson is senior pastor of Southern Gables Church, Littleton, Colorado.

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Sermon Outline:


God's goodness and power often come into question during times of tragedy.

I. Tragedy makes us wonder who's in control.

II. How we can know God's goodness when surrounded by evil.


Craig Scott, when he heard about his sister's death, said "My sister is with the Lord. I will see her again."