Like you, my heart is heavy this week thinking about yet another mass shooting in our nation. This time, it is in Uvalde, Texas. It is hard to put words to the grief and horror we feel as we learn details about the events of that day and the lives lost. At least 19 children and two teachers were killed by a teenage assailant.
Naturally, we question how this could happen and why anyone would do something as horrific as this. We will try to explain the unthinkable and make sense of the senseless. Then, we will look for someone to blame. Some will blame the gun lobby and cry for greater gun control. Others will blame a failed political system, the decline of family values, video games, or some other cause. Outrage, political debate, and solutions across the partisan divide will add more fuel to the emotions we feel.
Yet, before we move too quickly toward pointing the blame or offering solutions, we must first stop to grieve the loss of 21 lives. Scriptures call us to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Jesus modeled what it looks like to empathize with those who experience loss – “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Make no mistake about it, not a tear we shed is ever lost. The Lord captures each one in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Thus, it is right and appropriate to grieve.
We must also rightly call the tragic event of that day what it is – evil. As much as this world tries to deny it, there are moral absolutes rooted in the character of God. Whenever we express moral outrage at times like this, we prove that there is a moral law outside of ourselves to which we all appeal. Where does this come from? It comes from the moral Lawgiver who created us in His image. White, black, or brown; rich or poor; young or old; educated or uneducated; we all bear His image. As those created in the image of God, an innate sense of right and wrong is embedded within the conscience of every person (Romans 2:15).
Until we understand and clearly articulate the problem, we will never arrive at an adequate solution. Politics, law, education, and family all play an important but limited role because none are able to change the human heart. This is where we, the church, have a great opportunity. As followers of Christ, we understand the reality of evil and the eternal hope offered to us through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. He, and He alone, is able to bring about true transformation of the heart (Romans 8:9-11).
My encouragement to you during this time is to remind yourself of the gospel and use the headlines of our day as a means to engage in meaningful conversations with your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
Also, pray for those most impacted by this tragedy. As you pray, don’t discount its impact. I’ll often hear people say something along the lines of, “Just pray,” as if prayer were a last resort or akin to wishful thinking. No. Prayer is the means by which we, as God’s children, converse with our sovereign Creator who providentially works through the ordinary course of our day. Prayer is the means by which meaningful and lasting change occurs.
Finally, don’t lose hope. I’m sure you, like me, heard a college professor smugly proclaim a syllogism like this to an unsuspecting freshman class: “If God is all-good, He would destroy evil. If God is all-powerful, He could destroy evil. But evil is not destroyed. Hence, there is no such God.” As Christians, we understand the fallacy of this argument as it omits the element of time and any reason as to why the Lord might delay His rightful judgment. The better and right argument is: “If God is all-good, He will defeat evil. If God is all-powerful, He can defeat evil. Evil is not yet defeated. Therefore, God can and will one day defeat evil.”
Don’t lose hope, friends, for there will be a day when our Lord will judge sin and destroy the presence and memory of evil. Until then, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
See you on Sunday,
Blake serves as Elder and Lead Pastor at Watermark Community Church.