What Do We Attack Now?

By Sam Jolman | January 5, 2013

“Evil loves trauma and drama.” Dan Allender

“Our battle is not against flesh and blood.” Paul

You know the story. You have read it, heard it over and over, probably countless times by now. Its the one we are all trying to grasp still, aware that we cannot escape its horror.

On Friday, December 14, a 20 year old young man, after having murdered his mother point blank at his home while she slept, stole her guns, broke into a school in Newtown, Connecticut, and violently took the lives of 20 innocent children and 6 adults. For some reason, he stopped, ending his blood bath by taking his own life.

A teacher called 911 while huddled under a table. She narrowly missed being shot herself while investigating the sound of gunfire. And within minutes, a small army of police and law enforcement officers descended on the facility. They were armed and ready to attack and defend life.

But by the time they arrived, there was no one to attack. The killer was dead. The carnage had been done. As was reported in the New York Times, “It was eerily silent in the school when police officers rushed in with their rifles drawn.”

And I imagine in that moment, the officers felt exactly what we are all feeling now: What do we do now? What do we attack now? Where do we aim all this angry energy? All this desire for justice?

I’m guessing that amidst your tears and shock you felt this, the anger and the “something must be done about this” feeling. This outcry and rage are oh so very fitting. As someone put it on Facebook, little children and massacre should never, ever go together in the same sentence. An injustice has been done. An atrocity. And yet even these words cannot capture the feeling of it. The not rightness cannot quite be put into words strong enough to capture what our hearts feel.

We all want to fight something. We all know something needs to change. Something needs to be opposed.

I have seen this collective rage being aimed in two primary places: Gun control and mental health. Some people barely seemed to pause before venting their fury in the political battle for stricter gun laws. The NRA closed down its Facebook page the Monday after the shooting because people mobbed their site. Folks were also crying out for greater mental health screening, in schools, in colleges. But in haste, someone diagnosed the killer as autistic and suddenly autism and cold blooded murder became linked together. Which they are not.

These are hugely important topics to discuss. They are conversations we must have as a society. I hope they don’t fade out of site as this story gets swallowed up in the current of the world news. More on that in a minute.

But I think we all know deep inside these issues alone don’t capture the magnitude of what happened in that building. I think Connecticut Mayor Dan Malloy spoke what we are all feeling when he said, “Evil visited this community today.”

Yes, that says it. Something so totally haunting and horrific and bone chilling happened. Something evil.

Its just this sort of story that evil loves best. In the words of Dan Allender, “Evil loves trauma and drama.” A human being, made in the image of God, takes the life of many other human beings. Then he shoots himself, ending yet another life. And with it, we all collectively lose our bearings like one giant emotional earthquake. Its a perfect setup for the most efficient horror and haunting. Evil pulled all the right marionette strings to make it happen. And then simply slipped into the shadows. Gone. When the police arrive, there is nothing to attack.

It happened in Newton. Its happening in Syria. The image of God killing the image of God. In the words of John Eldredge, “We live in a world at war.” And I agree with this. I do actually believe there are unseen forces of evil in the world, instigating and messing with the events afoot here. Trauma and drama.

Its happening in your life too, by the way. Whatever trauma or drama you’ve suffered in life is either caused directly by forces of evil or is certainly known by them and used to screw with your life. Evil has a file on you of the most painful, difficult, events and relationships of your life. And it works to mess with your life. You are not alone in your struggles.

Now back to the whole laws discussion. For this reason we cannot make laws the only issue. We cannot make them the only place we aim our energies.

We cannot dismiss laws either. We need them. They do deal with evil. In the wise words of my friend Mike Winkler, “No law is going to solve evil intrusion into our world: people’s hearts must be changed. But that’s poor reasoning to discern the value of a piece of legislation. Laws are blunt instruments by nature, but they are meant to create a structure for society in which righteousness has the best chance of flourishing.”

This is said so well (as is usual for Mike). And don’t we all know this, the blunt rudimentary nature of laws? They don’t work perfectly. That we even have to tell people that murder is wrong and will be punished is in itself a broken thing. We all kinda know that this is not going to solve evil’s intrusion.

And so what else do we aim at? And how to do we attack it? Jesus said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” Evil really wants you to stop loving, that is to stop putting your heart out there in the world, in people’s lives.

And so to love and to risk your heart is to do the greatest destruction to evil’s plans. Its no wonder Jesus said that the greatest commands are: Love God and love your fellow human. In fact, to love is to be a law unto yourself. Which means love is the thing that creates a world we’re all hoping for, one without evil acts of violence.

May your greatest energies be spent not at the gun store or in calling your congressman. But in loving the person right next to you.


  • Just what I needed to hear, this very day…as I ponder ‘re-entry’ into relationship, after so much hurt & loss & distance.

    “Jesus said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most
    will grow cold.” Evil really wants you to stop loving, that is to stop
    putting your heart out there in the world, in people’s lives.
    And so to love and to risk your heart is to do the greatest destruction to evil’s plans.”

    Right there; that’s it.
    Because the response to rejection & pain – is withdrawal. Which leads to more rejection & pain & withdrawal. I know the only way to end the crazy-cycle is to put my broken & bleeding & repentant heart back out there, and love again. Hopefully in new ways, with courage & boundaries & strength & more of God & less of me.

  • Sam i appreciate your narrative of the law enforcement showing up to the scene in Newtown and there was no evil to attack. The war was over for the moment. And I agree with Evil being the only explanation as to how it happen and secondly why it left our country feeling so violated (still). May we bring the light of the Kingdom of Heaven into the darkest places we encounter.

    • Amen… Walk into the darkness and hold the light. Good reminder. Though it already makes my heart beat faster to hear you say that.


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