Why the Las Vegas shooting happened
Written by Miles McPherson
Over the past 13 months, retired accountant Stephen Paddock acquired 33 high-powered weapons. He wired $100k dollars to his girlfriend to buy a house, and traveled to Las Vegas where he spent two weeks before checking into a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel with 23 guns.
Below him, thousands of unsuspecting country music fans gathered to hear Jason Aldean perform at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Paddock then broke a window in his suite, and proceeded to spray the crowd below with 10-15 minutes of non-stop gunfire before taking his own life.
The scene was chaotic. People ran in every direction seeking shelter. Friends and family members were separated. Bags, shoes, blood, and bodies covered the cool grass around the stage. Aldean took to Instagram that night, calling the evening “beyond horrific,” and saying he still didn’t know what to say.
I think most of us can relate. In moments like these of extreme violence and unprecedented hate, the shock can be overwhelming— paralyzing even. As we seek to make sense of the madness, an old question begins to resurface:
“If God is good, why do bad things happen?
As a pastor, I get this question often and, in my search for an answer, I initially came up empty. You see, the Bible says that in the beginning, “God saw everything that He made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). When He made the world, God didn’t give it a bad bone. It was good, all of it—even people!
Yet it doesn’t take a trained eye to find evil in the world. That’s because there is a spiritual force of evil at work—the devil—that “does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” God’s creation (John 10:10). Because we were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), humans the top targets on the devil’s hit list. If he can, the devil will try to enlist our help in his evil strategy to steal, kill, and destroy (see 1 John 3:8).
That’s why Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we are in a battle against “principalities… powers… rulers of the darkness of this age… (and) spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places…”
God gave people the ability to choose good or evil. We are more than capable of refusing the devil’s tempting but, sometimes, we don’t. When, like Stephen Paddock, humans choose evil instead of good, the consequence is always pain and death—58 dead and in Las Vegas, 49 in Orlando (2016), 27 in Sandy Hook (2012), and 32 at Virginia Tech (2007). These are all examples of satanically inspired attacks carried out on people, the image of God.
That’s why, even though investigators are still struggling to understand Paddock’s motives behind all killings, I’m certain of the spiritual motive behind it—evil.
But that doesn’t make God less good. Even when humans cause bad things to happen, He is always good, and He always will be.
This pain that we feel today is not God’s will or design. He never wanted the Las Vegas shooting to happen, and I believe it grieves His heart even more than it does ours.
As we grieve, we can remember with hope that Revelation 21:4b says, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.” I’m convinced that He is good, able, and willing to guide us through our pain and heal us from it.