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December 17th, 2012
03:02 PM ET

My Take: Praying for questions about Newtown that go beyond ‘Why, God?’

Editor’s note: Margaret Feinberg is a popular speaker and author of numerous books, including “Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God,” which releases on Christmas Day. Follow her on Twitter @mafeinberg.

By Margaret Feinberg, Special to CNN

Why, God, why? Why do you allow the horror of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School?

Why do you allow the loss, pain, terror, heartache and death? Why do you allow evil to triumph and innocence to be stripped away? Is this kind of evil stoppable? And do we have some role to play?

In the wake of so many unanswered questions, what kinds of questions do we really need to be asking? Are you cajoling us to ask how we can prevent this from happening again? Is the answer found in gun regulations, better security or deeper changes in our own hearts and lives?

Does preventing these kinds of crimes actually begin with us? If we had more compassion on those on the margins - those who wrestle with the demons of mental illness and social exile, who may be pondering violent acts at this very moment - can we prevent this horror from happening again?

My Take: Obama's Newtown remarks show pastor-in-chief

Are you prompting us to search our own lives and hearts to identify who we need to recognize that we’ve overlooked? In our families? Neighborhoods? Schools? Workplaces? Communities? Retirement homes?

Who are the kids and adults being shoved to the sidelines of life on whom we need to extend compassion? Where have our arms been too short, our hearts too closed to embrace?

Is this a potent reminder that our call is to be more sensitive to those who feel unloved, marginalized, shunned from our society? Are you awakening us to the fact that we all play a role in these matters?

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Have we helped create troubled souls like Arizona gunman Jared Loughner, Colorado gunman James Holmes and now Connecticut gunman Adam Lanza through our failure to extend kindness to those who need it most?

What are the words we need to learn to say not just with our mouths but our actions? Are you challenging us to express, “I love you!”;  “You matter!”; “You’re good at that!”; “We’re glad you’re here!";  “Want to join us?” or something more?

Will you grace us with the courage to extend a love we do not have on our own?

Why does it seem that before we can change, we need to encounter you? Will you give us eyes to see those who feel invisible, ears to hear their cries for help and hearts broken for victims who prey on victims?

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

How can we reflect you and your love during this difficult time? Will you pour out your grace, strength and love on those who have lost so much? Will you wrap your arms around them? Will you be with them in a tangible way?

Will you give them unexplainable peace? Will you do something miraculous? Will you unleash your redemption and restoration in this situation? Will you take prayers we’ve offered this week and make them habits of our hearts?

Will you do what only you can do, and take our breaths away again? Will you astound us with the wonder of who you are in the midst of that which makes no sense? Will you draw us all closer to you and to each other through this time?

In the wake of your love, will you teach us what better questions we need to ask and how we need to respond? Will you help us, oh Lord? Will you let it be so? Amen.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Margaret Feinberg.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion • Prayer • Violence

soundoff (1,166 Responses)
  1. meefo

    If god exists, he's a petty a**hole just like every one of us.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Pete

      Well they do claim he made us in his image.

      December 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  2. PrAiSe tHe LoRd!?!?

    I have never understood people who ask "Why, God, why?, after tragic events like this These things happen because the god wanted it to happen. That is what the book says. Nothing happens without the god. If you are going to spew religious nonsense you have to accept it ALL. You're supposed to smile when the god does anything, even if you don't LIKE it. When people cry about someone dying they are tacitly dissaproving of the god. FOR SHAME! The God killed all those children because it pleased him. You are supposed to smile about it because this was the gods decision, and you are REQUIRED to love the god's choices. If you're going to preach the word of the god then you must smile and be filled with joy when he kills the people you love.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Dan

      Well not exactly. We must and should cry and ask why. God IS working and weaving all things together for his glory and we will know the larger WHY when we are with him. We are not privledged enough in our capcity to understand or comprehend the why. Yes, not only will it cause us to reflect in the evil in the world, but will expose Satan for what he is and even Satan's plans will work in God's favor.

      December 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • K Kim

      Life does not end upon death of the body. This belief seems to get lost when" casual" believers and nonbelievers enagage in discussiosn about God.

      December 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @K Kim

      Say what you mean, don't try to avoid it.

      December 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • K Kim

      @hawaii guest,

      Without God, man will become depraved but our hope is not in mankind or humanity but in Christ Yeshua. God turns even evil for good, as he did with Joseph and his brothers.

      December 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @K Kim

      I'm talkng about this part.
      "Life does not end upon death of the body."
      What you just said does not interest me.

      December 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  3. Carl

    I despair for the future when I read idiotic comments to the effect that removing God from the classroom left nothing but evil. The flip side of God is not evil, it's Reason. And for the Canadian who smugly claimed we never had God in Canadian schools, you are quite wrong. Up until the early 70s we started every morning with the Lord's Prayer. We got rid of that nonsense about the same time they started letting girls wear pants to school.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  4. R.G.T.

    For God so loved the world that He gave it ... guns?

    December 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  5. Rob Liz

    These questions could also pertain to the hundreds of children murdered every year in the middle east or in Africa. Those countries look at this and think we're lucky and privileged. Does your Christianity even extend beyond our borders? I'll make it easy for you, there is no God and if there is, he doesn't care what we do. It's up to us as people to do the right thing, not rely on some spiritual being that fails to protect 3/4ths of the time.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      God is a being of such smallness, He and His kind could all live upon but one single atom which really is in itself a micro-nebula of very small size! Geometric cosmologies dares relate such a thing to be possible but I digress, you may think it foolish and unwise to think such a thought. :-(

      December 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  6. André

    One remark to Margaret Feinberg, the author of this article:
    God is imaginary. It's in your head. It doesn't exist. Grow up.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Arm and do

      Totally agree with you, God is just a product of ignorance and fear of reality.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  7. Dan

    @Mike: I'm sorry you haven't been touched yet by the quiet strength of God. God manipulated an entire population to bring Joseph and Mary to their town to register and bring them Jesus's birthplace fulfiling prophesy. And used taxes nonetheless to do it! All that for two people! Imagine how great his works are even in this tragedy. Each one of those loving children closed their eyes in this world only to open up their eyes to the Savior. God is at work in all of this. I pray for each families strength to overcome the loss of their children and that they themselves believe in Christ so that they may see their children again. Stupid and weak? I'm a degreed individual that runs a major repair facility. No my friend, my faith is well placed in Christ who is faithful to me even when I'm not.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  8. jeff johnson

    Listen God or Jesus whatever, you can go suck a big one for letting all those little kids die. You knew what was happening and didn't do anything so go suck it Jesus.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  9. darmonx

    you now ask God why? how dare we? after we take him out of the public school prayers, in front of government buildings, and almost anything and everything the atheist have successfully lobbied for that is related to government and tax payer money... we ask why??? if we are not fighting for him... why should we ask him why? how dare we!

    December 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      So your whiny b!tch of a god would have saved those kids if only we had school kids chant his name a few times every morning, but he decided 'Nah, I'll let all those kids die... after all, they 'kicked me out'? Seriously? Tell your god to go fvck himself.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Another idiot is heard from.

      If your puny god needs prayers to be spoken aloud, in unison, by millions of children, if your weak-ass god requires statues and plaques to display his words in order to protect the smallest of his creation, he is deaf, blind, and dumb, and not worth obeying.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • niknak

      Yes, what Moby said.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Akira

      So prayer isn't taught, BFD.
      If God is that petty, what's to worship?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  10. Johnny Anonymous

    What happened in Newtown was a terrible terrible tragedy. That being said I think the sooner people can let go of mysticism and religion the better off everyone will be. How can religious people who are truly faithful to their deity not wonder how their god would allow such evil to transpire. This to me would only lead to causing even more pain and confusion. Fact of the matter is that only people can stop things like this from happening.

    I mean no offense to those in Newton affected by this. Our thoughts are with you.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • The Life of 3.14

      "the sooner people can let go of mysticism and religion the better off everyone will be."

      Why? Was the Newtown killer motivated by a religious faith?
      If it turned out that those people that saved children did so because of the morals taught to them from a religion....would you support faith then?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • The Life of 3.14

      Long story short...there is no evidence that a religion-less society is superior, better or more advanced than one with a religion within it.
      Of course, there hasn't really been a religion-less society yet. ven those that say they aren't have only tried to replace a faith in a deity with that of a government or figurehead.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Johnny Anonymous

      No offense intended. Just my 1.5 cents. I can see how faith would also be a great way for people to get through something like this.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  11. K Kim

    The answer to "why" perhaps lies in Romans 1:

    28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      So your god allows those that hate him to destroy the lives of children? Wow, sounds like a disgusting azzhole to me.

      I tell you what god, if some guy wants to kill twenty kids again, why not go ahead and take away his free will so that the twenty kids can continue to have theirs and live?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Jim A.

      K Kim – I would not recommend that you refer to scripture when discussing particular situations with those who do not believe in God because they do not recognize the Bible. They will automatically dismiss it just as you would dismiss an argument if someone quoted you verses from the Koran. It is best to find out why they do nto believe and then address those positions individually.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • K Kim

      Moby,

      You should thank God that he lets you live and gives you every opportunity to repent and be saved.
      As for the children, the kindom of heaven belong to them and those such as them. As Yeshua did with Stephen, my hope in Christ is that he appeared to these children before their death as he did we Stephen. Be warned that God will have little mercy on those who cause little children to sin. In other words, more so than even the killer of these children, God will hold accountable those who teach children that God does not exist. God is love and the Gospel of the Kingdom is life.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • K Kim

      Jim A,

      My personal experience is that God's word is far more powerful than I've ever imagined in changing people's views and perspectives, even nonbelievers and even Muslims. I am not here to express my personal opinion. Besides, God's words are so much more pignant than anything I ahve to say.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • thatoneguy

      In the Christian view, death is not as terrible as we feel that it may be. For a non believer death is absolute, but for a believer.... instead of treating these poor defensless and innocent young babies as if they will forever stay in the ground is an injustice.... these babies are home, in a place far better than here....... death is not the end of a book, but the beginning of a chapter. So you may say "oh Heaven?! u are weak minded!!! need to rely on a ghost that doesnt exsist!" Evil is here with or with out God...... I choose to believe in God, a man that loves me and has a plan..... I may not follow that plan... and some may detour me from it.... but i will continue to try....

      December 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @K Kim

      Why aren't you answering my simple question? (The first one I asked).

      December 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • K Kim

      Moby,

      I did but let me clarify. I disagree with the premise in your question that these children's lives were destroyed.

      December 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  12. was blind, but now I see

    24Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.25“But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.26“But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.27“The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’28“And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’29“But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.30‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

    Matthew 13:24-30

    December 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      The Tares Explained

      36Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”37And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,38and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.40“So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.41“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,42and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.43“Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  13. CGAW

    Lots of long explanations here but all comes down to freewill and how one responds to life.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Muhhammad Al Shibarak Hussien

      ALLAH mourns not a single soul! He condemns the wicked by flame and anguish! Praise the almighty Alllah!

      December 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  14. Jim A.

    Moby Schtick wrote: "People die for their sincere beliefs all the time. See suicide bombers, 9/11, etc.. If you believe you'll get a paradise after death, then you'll make the trade."

    The difference is that the early martyrs of The Church did not kill others to obtain their rewards. These early Church martyrs were tortured and killed for their beliefs. The Apostles, St. Justin Martyr, St. Polycarp, etc. they were killed for their beliefs. The people you mentioned killed people thinking that their stunt would equate to heavenly rewards.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      No, Jim, the trade is the same. If you believe that martyrdom will get you there, then you'll go that route. There's nothing special about dying for one imaginary god versus another.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      And, Jim, plenty of crusaders went a-killing for the glory of their god and their guaranteed eternal reward promised them by their christian leaders.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Jim A.

      And plenty of martyrs who never raised a finger against another human being. Think of St. Maximilian Kolbe who voluntered to die in place of a stranger in a German concentration camp.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yes, Jim. Believers in an eternal paradise are often willing to make the trade. If you believe that death ushers in the most incredible and wonderful existence that never ends, you'll take that option-–especially if it helps further the belief you hold dear.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Jim A.

      You then equate the martyrdom of St. Peter, for example, with that of the 9/11 hijackers?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      No, Jim. I'm not equating martyrdom at all. I'm equating the reasons for allowing yourself to be killed for your faith. If you believe that dying gets you glory, then you're willing to give up your life. The other particulars are just that. If you believe that crawling through a tunnel of sh!t gets you a prize of ten million dollars, you'll get down and start hustling.

      December 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Jim, I've basically said the exact same thing to you five times now. Why do you keep attempting to sidetrack the issue?

      What is it about what I'm saying that makes you want to dodge the underlying logic by whatever means necessary? What's so wrong about what I'm saying? What does it cost you to realize that a person who is convinced it's a great trade will certainly lay down his life regardless of the validity of the belief itself?

      December 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  15. Really now!

    This woman gets to cash in on a national tragedy to pimp her new book? Christians are just astounding!

    December 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • The Life of 3.14

      Yeah..it can show that some are as greedy as some atheists.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Akira

      Shows that some people will pimp out their souls for an extra buck or two.
      Belief in a deity isn't necessary, but for extra hypocritical value, is often the case.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  16. God is great

    Atheists are immoral evils who can't comfort people and fool themselves

    December 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Really now!

      That's why it is a Christian author who is using this tragedy to sell her new book.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      If you're going to express yourself for your god, you may want to do it with proper grammar so that we at least know what you're trying to say.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Jim A.

      This type of statement serves no purpose whatsoever. Please make an educated comment rather than a negative slur.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • @God is great

      Because people like you believe it was OK for a loving god to commit mass genocide with the flood. Sent bears at Elisha's request to maul 42 kids and proceeded to destroy JOB and his life over a bet with the devil. BTW he restored Job's cattle and crops.....but he never did give him children back. Tells Noah "he is favored above the rest".....yet he was a drunk. Turns Lot's wife into salt just for looking behind and rewards Joshua for collecting foreskins from died soldiers. When you come to the passage about Lots daughter having "love" with him and you say "oh its ok, just part of gods plan. Not so loving of a god.

      December 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  17. mike

    God is a lie, used to control the stupid and the weak. That shooting happened because we, as a people, decided to ignore the pressing need for reform and just banked on God preventing horrors from happening. Wise up people, only you can save yourself.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • yep

      Because it is the same crazy people that believe it was OK for a loving god to commit mass genocide with the flood. Sent bears at Elisha's request to maul 42 kids and proceeded to destroy JOB and his life over a bet with the devil. BTW he restored Job's cattle and crops.....but he never did give him children back. Tells Noah "he is favored above the rest".....yet he was a drunk. Turns Lot's wife into salt just for looking behind and rewards Joshua for collecting foreskins from died soldiers. Not so loving of a god.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • The Life of 3.14

      Hmm, I wonder what is used to control jerks and those who are rude.

      Hey mike...you should know this. What controls you?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • dwight

      Mike you know nothing about what the scriptures say. You sound like a person trying to promote the new world order honestly. The bible says the world is lying in the power of the wicked one. Do you know who the wicked one is? Satan... very good Mike lol. Keep that view about Jehovah god and when he comes with his judgement and you cry out for him he will tell you... Get away from me I DO NOT KNOW YOU!

      December 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  18. billybob

    Umm... "God" is everywhere, so he was there watching those children get slaughtered. If people really believed in "God" he would be with you everywhere you go, how can he be banned from school? If he is banned from a school he is not as powerful as you say he is. "God" is supposed to be super powerful but a lot of people make him out to be really pathetic. I do not believe in your pathetic "God".

    December 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  19. Dani3l

    "Will you give them unexplainable peace? Will you do something miraculous? Will you unleash your redemption and restoration in this situation? Will you take prayers we’ve offered this week and make them habits of our hearts?"

    These are the wrong questions. What we should ask is "will WE".

    If one posits the central message of Christ's ministry as love – and recall he interpreted the commandments as two great directives: to love God, and to love one's neighbor – then why these things occur is because we have a choice in our actions, and for an act to be moral we must choose the good.

    The killings in Connecticut were horrific. But in seeing the suffering of others, we learn empathy which is the basis of compassion, and the opposite of unconcerned self-interest. Why do these things happen? If we look to the Gospels, the answer is plain: to teach us why we must love one another.

    Extending that charity of heart to the families bereaved is easy. The challenge before us is to extend that same charity of spirit to the troubled young man who performed this terrible act, to understand what drove him to it.

    To do so, we must examine how we, as a culture and a society, must reform ourselves to make such atrocities less likely, not to assign blame elsewhere but to soberly examine our own culpability. And then to make amends.

    That is what we owe these families, and it is by the grace of God that it is we who are empowered to do so.

    Or not, as we choose.

    No one said that what is right is easy, or comes naturally to us by inclination. That is why we must have ideals for which to strive. We live in a world in which bad things happen, in order to teach us to be good.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  20. HughJass

    Why was this article written solely out of questions? Why are there so many people here voicing their opinions? Why do these people think anyone else cares what they think? Why didn't these people study harder in spelling and grammar class? How many negative replies am I going to get? Does anyone think I care what they have to say? Why can't I get rid of my cold? If a woman is walking alone in the forest, will she continue to talk? Where are my keys? Is is Friday, yet?

    December 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Akira

      Why ask why?
      Drink Bud Dry.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Your keys are in the fridge between the beer and the milk. You're welcome.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Eduardo

      Hey Shahira – I hope you get sued for misappropriating copyrighted material!

      December 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.