“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, â€œBe strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.â€ Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35:3-10Like the rest of you, I watched the news today with an incredible sadness. I held my kids close and sat with an uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. As a dad of three kids I cannot even begin to imagine what those parents are going through today. Like you, I want to know what I’m supposed to do with all of this. Turn on your TV or search the web and you’ll see all sorts of “solutions.” Gun control isn’t the answer because gun control is the wrong conversation. It’s a very complex conversation and one in which I believe most people form an opinion subjectively on their emotions rather than objectively with the facts. It’s the wrong conversation because focusing on politics during times like these is an easy distraction. Instead, we’ve got to acknowledge something that none of us want to acknowledge: we ultimately will never be able to stop horrific things from happening. It’s part of free will and God allows it so that we can also live in a world of love. We will always debate the best practical things that can be done to lessen it. If you watched the news, you heard that this school had actually increased their security measures this year not to mention that guns have been banned from schools for a long time now. There was another attack on children today in China using a knife. It is a futile effort to think you can stop a person who chooses to break the law by creating more laws. This isn’t an issue over laws. This isn’t an American issue either. The uncomfortable reality is that some people choose to do evil things. Until we accept that reality we will never have a foundation to move forward on. Jesus called us to not only acknowledge this, but to love the people that do it. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-46 One of the comments I heard on the news today was that “This is the face of mental illness.” The newscaster also said that there were only victims today. Considering the suffering of the gunman himself is a very Matthew 5 thing to do. That issue is a much more difficult solution to try and tackle. This is far more difficult because it demands something from us. It demands that we as a society, and especially as the Church, rise up for those hurting people around us. It is far easier to create a policy to ban something than it is to sacrifice something of yourself for another person. What could have been done for this gunman? Had he cried out to those around him for help? Not many people will take the time to walk down that road. How do we show love to a person like that, especially after the pain of what we’ve seen today? While you will hear all sorts of calls to action over the next few days, I would recommend two responses: grieving and prayer. We, especially Americans, are quick to find a solution because it moves us past the grieving stage. But grieving is human. It connects us with the heart of God (who also happens to be grieving even when He has the power to stop it). I admired this tweet from comedian Jim Gaffigan (the first part of this tweet is his response to the rest of the line which is a tweet from someone else):
We shouldn’t feel better. “@thedsever Gaffigan- You’re a father, and a funny comedian. Say something to make us feel better right now.” â€” Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) December 14, 2012I know it hurts to turn on the news or to read about what happened. But it did. And you are a human designed to feel the emotions that it stirs inside of you. To gloss over them is to gloss over life itself. I have to fight back emotions of rage just imagining what the parents are feeling right now. It is that raw emotion that draws us into grieving. If you follow Jesus Christ, the tangible reaction that you have available to you is prayer. Unfortunately we often don’t think it accomplishes much but the Bible tells us about a God who often decides His course of action based on the prayers of His people. We can move forward His hand in a powerful way by His Church fervently asking for it. God is grieving, and He is listening. In our grief let us go to Him in prayer and lift up the many hurting people right now.
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