Another day, another senseless tragedy. We are all trying to make sense of the news. As Christians, though, what should we be doing? I have some thoughts about that:
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” – Ephesians 6:18
As Christians everything begins with prayer (it is also what we during and after). Prayer, though, is often ridiculed after a tragedy by those who believe that it is passive and doesn’t accomplish anything. How wrong they are! Prayer is an action that changes things and people. Prayer invokes the power of the most high to heal, inspire, strengthen and to bring peace and comfort. It changes those who pray, as such intimate contact with God transforms our hearts and pushes us to be more like the people God wants us to be.
But what we if don’t know what to pray for? In times like this our minds and spirits can freeze and we’re left with no words. That’s OK – God understands this. The Apostle Paul even addressed this in his letter to the churches in Rome:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” – Romans 8:26
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23a
The transmission of news nowadays is almost instantaneous. However, the investigation happens slowly. Herein is where patience is required. We want to know everything and we want to know it NOW!! And instead of patiently waiting, we fume, we guess, and sometimes, we even make things up. We speak and act rashly. The news media makes all of this worse by feeling the need to fill up every second of every minute of every hour with something, ANYTHING. I remember on 9/11 all of the stories about other planes, other attacks and most all of them amounted to rumor and fear.
We need to slow down. We need to step away from the news. Hug your kids. Call your parents and tell them you love them. Walk your dog. Read your Bible. Visit a friend. I get it – we want to solve things. We want hatred and violence to end. But we need to know that we can’t fix anything unless we know what, exactly, the problem is. And it takes time to piece together all the facts after a murderous incident. So, in the meantime, be patient.
This also goes for using tragedies for political gain. Sometimes I think that this is worse than the tragedy itself. With the instantaneous nature of social media, we see such thing mere moments after a tragedy (sometimes even when the event is still happening!). I find this ghoulish. Already today I’ve seen the normal anti-gun advocates leaping up on the dead bodies (figuratively) to push for more gun control. I’ve even seen someone blame it on racism and White Supremacy! I’m reminded here of that old saying of “If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” We are not to profit from tragedy. And we should at least wait until all the dead are buried before we start posturing.
As an aside, there should be some kind of rule wherein any proposed legislation after a tragedy would actually have prevented the attack. After Newtown, there wasn’t a single proposed or implemented legislation that would have prevented what happened. We have to suppress the urge to do SOMETHING and work toward actually fixing the problem.
Love, Don’t Hate
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21
There is going to be a lot of (misplaced) anger and hatred today and in the coming days and weeks. People are frustrated and hurt and want and things like what happened to end. So they lash out. They strike at perceived enemies, people who they don’t agree with. We humans, for some reason, need someone to blame. And if we can’t (or won’t) blame the correct person or people (the one(s) pulling the trigger, or handling the knife or driving the car), we’ll blame someone or something. And it isn’t pretty. Just this morning I saw a teacher (not local) tweet that she hopes that only Trump voters were killed! As angry as we might get, we are called to a higher response. Christ taught us to be peacemakers and to forgive. The Apostle Paul summed it up eloquently when he wrote “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Don’t respond in kind when someone says something ugly. And don’t post anything that makes the situation worse. Ask yourself, “Am I making things better or worse? Am I shining the love of Christ into the darkness or am I part of the darkness?”
Love always wins. God’s love triumphs. Be patient. Be kind. Pray constantly and don’t be overcome by evil.