It’s been three days since the Orlando shootings. The worst mass shooting in our nation’s history. Better writers and thinkers than I have already written better thoughts than I will. I recommend this to you.
We often hear older generations lamenting the days gone by and I, for one, often chalk it up to wishful thinking and a rewriting of the past. Still, in the wake of the past few years, it’s hard not to take a negative view of our current circumstances.
In the last month we have witnessed a mass shooting, terror attacks around the world, the murder of thousands of unborn children, a convicted rapist receiving a laughable sentence because a longer one might “disrupt his life”, and countless other tragedies. We’ve seen racial hate crimes, religious hate crimes, gender hate crimes, and plain hate. We feel the tension to the point of apathy; there is so much to worry about, why do anything at all? Or maybe we’re afraid to be on the “wrong side” of whatever debate is currently going on.
What gets lost in all of this though is our humanity. A mass shooting isn’t just a news headline, it’s fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, friends, spouses, lovers not coming home. 20 minutes behind a dumpster is not just “boys being boys.” It is a man, willingly using his strength to harm a woman too weak to respond. Unborn children aren’t just fetuses and clumps of tissue. They are people, created in the image of God with all the potential and hope that comes with it. People with disabilities aren’t a drain on society, they are contributors, but more than that, they are image-bearers.
We need to debate idelogical issues. We need to ask hard questions and challenge the status quo. We need to trust and still remain skeptical of governmental authority. But we also need to remember that our statistics are people – whichever side of any issue you fall on.
The mother visiting an abortion clinic is a human being, with a story and pain and hope and fear. The men and women shot in Orlando are people with dreams and families.
Our grief is good. It reminds us of our humanity and our fragile, but good life. When we grieve a mass shooting, our hearts cry out for justice and mercy from a God bigger than ourselves. We mourn a broken world and we confirm this brokenness with our tears. And still we hope. We hope for justice. We hope in our Creator because this. is. not. right. We have never known a world without death and still we know death is wrong.
In the midst of grief, we have hope. Hope that one day, all will be made right. This does not mean “our” candidate will be elected or “our” team will win. One day mourning will turn into joy and wrongs will be righted. Our hope is not the light hope that says “be happy, better days will come!” Our hope is the deep hope that comforts in the midst of grief. It says this is not OK, but there is something greater. It says, there is sorrow tonight and we grieve to our bones, but there will be joy one day.
Our hope in the midst of our helpless grief is that there is One who has already defeated death. He has made a way for wrongs to be right. Our deepest needs, our deepest hopes are satisfied in Jesus Christ. He is the only one who has faced death and lived. In Him we hope and with Him we grieve.
Now, let’s grieve and sit with our neighbors as we walk this journey called life together.