Late last night, there was a shooting in a park in Chicago. I don’t know many of the details, or whether there was a specific target or not. But I do know that 13 people were shot, including a 3 year old boy, Deonta Howard. The bullet entered the child’s head through his ear and exited through his mouth. While there were 12 other victims of the shooting, who undoubtedly were hospitalized and traumatized, only the 3-year-old boy was listed as in critical condition this morning.
The boy’s grandmother was interviewed and said through tears that the violence “needs to stop.”
Just last week, Willow Long, a 7-year-old girl in Effingham, was killed by her uncle, Justin DeRyke. Willow’s mother reported that she had seen her daughter walk out of the house Sunday morning, but she never returned home. Nearly 2,000 people searched for Willow in and around homes, forests, and corn fields. Her body was found Monday evening in a rural area south of Watson. The time of death was estimated to have been 11 pm Saturday night.
Justin DeRyke entered a not-guilty plea in a pre-trial hearing, but he fully admits that he did what he did “to end her suffering.”
We live in a fallen world where children, who are some of the most innocent among us, are hurt and killed every day. It’s often unintentional, but it’s still a reality. In such situations, our first reactions are often a mixture of anger, sorrow, and a desire for justice. But we cannot truly have justice in many of these situations, because no amount of punitive action can undo what has already been done. And while it’s certainly appropriate for governments to punish wrongdoing, we as individuals must be careful that we don’t “become judges with evil thoughts” (James 2:4).
While these stories are tragic, we must remember that we are all capable and guilty of equally horrendous sins. We have all broken God’s commands. We have all hurt others, either by our hands or by our words, and even if that’s not the case, we’ve sometimes wanted to, which is just as bad (1 John 3:15). None of us are righteous, so we all need to embrace Jesus Christ to be saved.
And as long as we live in this world, we’re going to be surrounded by sinners, just like ourselves. Deonta’s grandmother is right. The violence “needs to stop.” And we would all do good to look first at the violence in our own hearts.