How a School Shooting Revealed God’s Sovereignty
Today’s post, How a School Shooting Revealed God’s Sovereignty, is by my very good (in-real-life friend) Jessica. She has a podcast ( The Stained Glass Podcast) but check it out after you read her amazing story of how God showed up for (and her husband) in an amazing way!
My husband and I have been together since high school, both attending a small engineering college. I pursued the fields of electrical engineering and computer science, while he focused on civil engineering. He graduated a semester early; therefore, he proposed, and we planned our wedding for the following June.
For graduate school, my husband chose Virginia Tech due to its proximity and outstanding water resources engineering program. Meanwhile, I aimed to graduate, secure a job near Blacksburg, VA, and prepare for our upcoming wedding. Despite interviewing through my college’s career center and exploring local opportunities, I couldn’t find a suitable position. However, through our new church, we discovered a potential job opening at a local architectural firm. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be the right fit. Then just two weeks before graduation, my last prospect fell through. Thankfully, my former employer in Charleston, WV offered me a job due to their upcoming workload.
One week before graduation and one month before our wedding, we faced a crossroads. We contemplated three options: my husband quits school and we both work in Charleston; both of us attend graduate school at Virginia Tech, accumulating substantial debt; or I work in Charleston while he continues his education in Virginia. After much prayer and careful consideration, we chose to live apart for a year. Despite facing opposition from family and friends, we believed it was the best choice for our long-term careers.
We lived two and a half hours apart, seeing each other on weekends, alternating between West Virginia and Virginia. During his time at Virginia Tech, my husband formed strong bonds with classmates and their families. The first semester presented challenges, but our busy schedules made time fly by. When it came time to plan his final semester, he had two class options: a math class supporting his thesis work, allowing him to be home most of the week; or an advanced hydrology class that interested him, but would mean being home only two days a week. He chose the math class.
On the morning of April 16, 2007, I received a frantic call from my husband’s grandmother. News of a shooting at Virginia Tech had reached her, and she couldn’t reach my husband. Checking the news, I discovered the unfolding story. Despite the spotty cell service as he was traveling back to school, I finally managed to speak with my husband. We had learned about the second shooting in the engineering building where his math class was scheduled later that afternoon. His classes were canceled, and he returned home to receive calls from concerned friends and family.
Later that evening, his faculty advisor informed him that one of his professors and ten of his classmates and friends had become victims. The advanced hydrology class was one of the first rooms targeted by the shooter. The weight of grief settled upon us as we realized the significance of God’s guidance in our decision to live apart. If we had been together, my husband would have been in the class and potentially targeted. Out of the 32 people who lost their lives, my husband knew 10 of them, sharing daily routines and connections. Their loss left an indelible impact.
After the shooting, my husband didn’t return to the university for coursework. He concluded the semester, retrieved his belongings from Blacksburg, and embarked on a new thesis project since his research partners had been victims. He successfully defended his thesis the following September, graduated in December, and we closed that chapter of our lives.
The concept of God’s sovereignty is beyond comprehension and explanation in this situation. While some may believe God is good because He protected my husband, I acknowledge that He also watched over those who tragically lost their lives. God’s goodness isn’t contingent upon specific outcomes; it remains unwavering regardless of circumstances. The suffering experienced by the 32 families seems senseless to us, but God alone possesses the power to bring order, meaning, and purpose from chaos and confusion. We recognize God is capable of infusing our lives with meaning and purpose. Although we question tragedies, we remember God’s presence and ultimate control over our circumstances. He doesn’t always shield us from hardships but sustains and guides us through them. Our hope rests in Christ’s work on the cross. Satan has already been defeated. (Amen?!)
Our personal experience with this tragedy deepened our appreciation for God’s sovereignty. At first, we struggled to comprehend His plan when I lost job opportunities. However, in hindsight, we discerned His greater purpose. It offered a glimpse into the masterpiece He is crafting in our lives, shaping us through each trial. We have learned to place our trust in God in ways we never imagined, growing in faith and reliance upon Him.
Make sure to check out Jessica’s podcast, The Stained Glass Podcast.