Yesterday in California, another shooting. Before the gun control call comes from the White House, before we analyze every motive, before we suggest that climate change had something to do with this, let us stop and mourn. Mourn for the 14 people who lost their lives yesterday. Mourn for and with their families who will celebrate Christmas this year with the gnawing pain of such a terrible loss. Mourn for the fact that we have fallen so far from God, that we respect life so little, that killing each other is the only way that we know how to communicate.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).” This is a favorite verse of mine to share with friends and family in times of loss. I remember being young and losing my grandfather. I remember those who came up to me at the funeral and said, “He’s in a better place.” For the Christian, that is true. Absent this life, you are in the presence of the Father. The twelve-year-old that just lost his hero, though, could care less. I was angry. My hero was gone and instead of offering some light, a platitude was applied.
Church, in times of great woe such as this, we have to do better than a platitude. We have to do better than #praying. In a world that is saturated in darkness, it is our commandment to bring light. We can’t offer a one sentence fix-all to a tragedy. We must mourn with those who are suffering. We cannot be so flippant as to suggest that we can fix it with a few words.
The only words that we can offer should come from the Author of Life. Matthew 5:4 is a good place to start. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Not comforted by us, but comforted by One who is far superior to our understanding. As much as the families are hurting, God is hurting more. God weeps when His creation does such evil to one another.
God knows a thing or two about mourning. He saw all the evil that man would do, yes even the shooters from yesterday, and in His love decided that only He could save us. He decided to send His own Son to be born of a woman, to grow into a man, and to ultimately die in our place. Many remember in Gethsemane where Jesus sweat tears of blood due to the anguish of His soul at the thought of being separated from His father. As a father myself, I can tell you that when I see my child weeping, I weep also. God in His mercy saved us but did so at the utmost cost.
So what is the Christian to do in times of such turmoil? First, we must all cry out to God. For the victims, for the murderers, and for ourselves. Saying that prayers won’t accomplish anything works only as long as you don’t pray. God is the only one who can comfort at times like this. Man can bluster about governmental regulations and laws, but we are ill-equipped to comfort the deep groanings of a wounded soul. Second, we must use this time to point others to Christ. We can’t know the peace of Christ and not offer it to others.
Before we analyze the motives of the shooters, before we talk again about gun control vs. 2nd amendment, before we criticize the President (of which I am more guilty than anyone) let’s weep with those who are weeping. Let’s seek to hug our children a little tighter and make sure that they know that we love them. Let’s use such a tragic time to point those around us to the One whose peace passes all understanding. Let us give them His words, which can heal a broken soul.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)”
May the Lord be with your and yours today and always.