My heart breaks for the loved ones of two people who died in a mall shooting near my home on December 11. Steven Forcyth, 45, father of two teen children, lived in the same town I live in. Driving home from meeting with my freelance editor, I recall the sirens of the fire trucks passing traffic in my direction. I learned only later of the rifle shots and mall mayhem. You may have seen the cell-phone pictures of shoppers exiting the mall with raised hands as they passed by law enforcement personnel, guns drawn. Officials estimated 10,000 shoppers present in the mall at 3:27 p.m., the time of the attack.
With two dead and shots persisting, mall employees, however, who had trained for just such an event, hustled shoppers into their back rooms and locked down their gates to their businesses. Law enforcement officials praised the response of the shoppers who protected themselves by falling to the ground or running. Police arrived within a minute of the first 911 call, and proceeded to enter the premises in order to confront or kill the “shooter.” Hard experience had taught them that to wait for more back up from a SWAT team and do planning only gave people killing others more time to kill. Quick action by mall employees and shoppers limited deaths.
Sometimes we’re helpless to limit chaos. Thank God the gun jammed!
At each end of Job’s story, he’s confronted with chaos. At the beginning his successful business career and children suffer destruction, the result of both natural and manmade disasters. With four devastating disasters in a row he could not prevent, Job responds with serenity and trust in God–at first. He later explodes in fury over the unfairness. Then, as if to remind Job of his earlier experience, at the end of his story the Lord describes Leviathan and Behemoth, two huge monsters of chaos. “Take now Behemoth,” the Lord says, “whom I made as I did you…” (40:15). If times of monstrous chaos are part of God’s creation we have to live with, how do we control, overcome, or limit chaos?
Job’s answer (and ours) may come from a verse a few lines later. “Only his Maker can draw the sword against him” (v. 19b). Against some forces of nature and people we are helpless; only God can stop the chaos.
Thank God the gun jammed!