We still don’t know all the details and we probably never will understand everything. However, if you are like me, you’re probably a bit shocked by the news of the recent plane crash, which appears to be the result of the co-pilot intentionally flying the plane into a mountain.
This is tragic. The loss of life is awful. The heartache the accident has caused so many people is saddening even from afar.
As I was reading the news stories and watching the press conferences, a few thoughts came into my mind. These are just things that struck me as I worked to understand this new tragic news through my worldview. They aren’t intended to make grand pronouncements or pointed apologetic points. This is one theologian's reflections on some terrible news.
1. The effects of sin are more significant than we often recognize.
It doesn’t matter whether there was a grand plot to inspire fear, a twisted mind that wanted to make people suffer, or a person suffering from depression that chose to end his life in an awful way. This crash is a symptom of sin in the world.
Things aren’t supposed to be this way, but sin causes all humans to be turned in on themselves and away from God. Sometimes it causes bodies not to work right so synapses fire wrong and people make bad choices. No matter whether it was evil intent or bad brain chemistry, the world was not meant to be this way. This is a sign of sin in the world.
Evil is all around us, both natural evils and those brought on through ill will. We need to recognize this, grieve over it, fight sin in our own hearts, and yearn for the coming renewal of all things.
2. We are far more dependent on mutual goodwill than we acknowledge.
One person was able to kill hundreds of others due to an awful choice. Every time we get on a plane we trust in the good will of the mechanics, the flight crew, and the tower controllers to do their jobs as well as they can and get us to our destination safely.
Every day we trust that most people are generally honest or afraid enough of the consequences not to steal from us. Generally we can trust that someone won’t break into our car or kill us when we walk down the street.
We are all capable of horrible evil and yet generally we don’t do the worst things we are able to. However, one bad choice can hurt a lot of people. One dishonest business person can bankrupt dozens of others. One unfaithful spouse can disrupt the lives of an entire family and leave stains of sin on generations to come. There is a fine line between justified trust and abuse of trust.
Neighbor love is important because it makes life bearable.
3. We are far more dependent on God’s common grace than we can see.
Part of what keeps us from being as bad as we could be is God’s common grace. If it weren’t for God’s kindness that restrains us by implanting some sense of goodness in all humans, things would be much worse.
And things could be much, much worse. While we mourn for the sorrow of this event, we can thank God for restraining so much evil that we never even recognize.
Thank God for his common grace on all creation that keeps it from being entirely distorted.
4. Christians can have hope in the coming renewal of all things.
Even as we mourn with those who mourn, we do not mourn as those who have no hope. Instead, like Paul, we can consider these present sufferings unworthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us as well as all creation. (cf. Romans 8:18ff)
This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Thank God that he has set in motion his plan to make it all better someday. There will be a day when every tear is gone and all things are made new. (cf. Revelation 21)
That doesn’t dull the pain and shock of the tragedy today, but it does provide a way to keep from despair. If it weren’t for the hope of all things being set to rights, the weight of sin might well overcome us and lead us to despair.
Thank God for his mercy on all of us. Thank God for his grace that leads to repentance and renewal. Thank God and pray for those suffering from this tragedy.