As most of us were walking through our normal routine this past Friday, a 20-year old man named Kim de Gelder rang the doorbell of the Fabeltjesland nursery in Dendermonde, Belgium, asking for information. When the staff opened the door, de Gelder ran inside and “quickly pulled out a knife and started using it on the children.” Within minutes, he had brutally stabbed 12 small children, killing a 6-month and a 9-month old baby. Doctors reported that the 10 surviving babies each had “multiple stab wounds on their legs, arms and all over their bodies.”
As Belgium continues to mourn this heinous act, many are asking questions. Why would a person choose helpless babies as his target? How could this happen? Before this horrific act becomes clouded by the blame-game which is sure to follow, let me offer a few observations:
Public outrage is inconsistent—On Sunday, BBC News reported that, “Thousands of people have marched in silence,” in mourning over the slaying of a 6-month old and a 9-month old baby. Ironically, those terrible murders occurred three days after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade which legalized the brutal murder of 50 million babies. Where is the public outrage and heartbroken mourning for those similarly senseless lost lives (Matthew 7:1-2)?
The world is not getting better—Biological and social evolution has promised that society continually progresses until eventually culminating in Utopia. This incident (and the testimony of reality) speaks to the contrary (2 Peter 3:5-7). Education, wealth and social services are promised as the keys to eliminating brutality in society. Belgium has one of the best educated populations in the world. They maintain one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. They have cradle-to-grave social services, including some of the most respected government run preschool programs—one of which was where this atrocious violence took place. By current global standards, Belgium is the gold-standard for a socially evolved country. But acts like this prove that no matter how well you pay, educate and medicate a totally depraved person, he is still totally depraved (Romans 8:7-8).
Demons are real—We see the Gospel accounts of demons and, since we don’t think we see similar activity today, assume that they are no longer at work. Some have even gone so far as to say that demon possession has never been real—it was just a primitive way of expressing what we call mental illness. Screwtape would be proud. Even though man’s nature is depraved, most of the time he is not as bad as he can be because he is still the image bearer of God. There is still an innate sense of morality and restraint. That goes out the window when beings who are not God’s image bearers are allowed to take control of a person. They do not have the same innate sense of morality. The only restraint they show is from the restraining hand of Almighty God. While demon possession in no way absolves de Gelder of his responsibility (Romans 2:15-16), it is the only explanation as to how a person could engage in such brutality.
God is still on His throne—Even in the midst of horror and mayhem, God mercifully restrains evil (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Friday’s events did not take God by surprise. As the all-knowing God, He knew it before the foundations of the world. He also knows how He is working even the evil actions of Kim de Gelder together for His good (Romans 8:28). In addition to God’s “big-picture” control, He mercifully restrained evil in that nursery on Friday. Imagine what devastation one demon-possessed, hell-bent for destruction man with a knife in a nursery could do. The articles have not indicated whether nursery workers restrained the man. But regardless of their actions, de Gelder easily could have slaughtered each child in that place. God’s merciful restraint, whether exercised through the actions of others or not, is the only explanation why most of those babies are living today.
People need Jesus—In response to the social utopians—no amount of social programming will fix the problem. No amount of education will fix the problem. No level of personal wealth will fix the problem. Since the problem is sin, the only solution is the only One who was capable of atoning for that sin. By simply inheriting a sinful nature, we have offended a holy God. God is infinite, so offense against Him is infinite. When an infinite Being is infinitely offended, only an infinitely worthy sacrifice will propitiate Him. Jesus—God in the flesh (John 1:18)—provided that infinitely worthy atoning sacrifice. And as such, He is the only answer of grace and peace to the raging nations.