This past Sunday was the kind of Sabbath that heals me. It was All Saints Sunday, my husband preached about my grandmother, and the church was full of loud children. During communion, a guy played “Amazing Grace” on the horn. It was a taste of heaven.

And then I turned on the radio in my car and heard about the horrific church shooting, just a few hours away from us, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And then I turned the radio off.

My heart felt too full of heartache. The vision of babies being shot to death in a Baptist church was more than I could bear. But this wasn’t what made me silence the news. The real reason I couldn’t stomach the reporting was the constant questions about the why.

Soon after these mass murders, moments afterwards it seems, everyone begins to talk about the motive of things. Why did this person come into a church to murder people? What group is he connected to? What was he angry about?

When Stephen murdered 58 people in Las Vegas, we all said, “Oh, he’s crazy.” When Sayfullo murdered 8 people in the streets of New York last week everyone let out a collective, “Oh, he’s affiliated with ISIS.” And now that Devin has murdered 26 people in Texas, we have told ourselves, “Oh, he’s got a history of spousal abuse.”

And while all of this may be true, none of it makes me feel any better. I understand these questions from a police perspective. But I do not process them on a heart level. Because the answer to the question “What was the motive?” never helps me.

Motive actually never, ever helps. It does not help when we go through divorce, or rehab, or when we get a fender bender in the parking lot. Motive doesn’t make me feel better about Hitler, Harvey Weinstein, or why I yelled at my kids this morning.

Motive gives us a straw man to separate ourselves from the latest tragedy. It offers a false sense of security. If we can figure out why the murders happened, then perhaps we can learn to dodge these “dangerous situations” in the future. By my count, that now means no concerts, no walking on the street, and now, no church all in the holy name of Safety. I am certainly not immune to this line of fear-based thinking. Each time my husband and I catch a weekday matinee movie my brain automatically thinks, “This is good! People don’t shoot people in movie theatres at 10am on a Monday!”

What I want to know about is what is our motive in even wanting a motive? Because the real question we are asking is not about the motive of the guilty but rather about the motive of sin. What is the profound experience of hatred and emptiness that compels a child of God to open fire on a small Texas Baptist church? This is a terrifying, but necessary question. It involves not what lies behind the motive of Devin’s life, but around the pain that tells us to push people like him far, far away.

We keep trying to find a motive behind the murderer’s sin so that we can assure ourselves that we are both safe from their actions and safe from the clutches of our own sinful hearts. But this is all for naught. The truth is, we are not safe from anything, ourselves or other people. Especially not in this earth-bound Christian life. I can only think of that gorgeous line C.S. Lewis uses to describe Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia:

Safe? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

When we want to know what the motive is, what we really hope to do is to make sense of sin. This is an impossible task. Sin will never make sense. It will destruct and destroy everything in its wake. And if the Devil is truly winning, we will cling to words like safety and security. We will find “motives” for the actions of Stephen, Sayfullo, and now, Devin. We will categorize them as monsters. And the distance we place will make us feel better for a few days, until the next tragedy happens, and then we can again muse about the motive to distract ourselves from the heartbreak.

Motive will not help us solve the mystery of the unrelenting agony and evil that lives in the human heart. Answers will come up empty. Sin will continue.

That’s why Jesus had to die for us. It was and is the only thing that saves us.