In the past five weeks, 90 people have been killed in mass shootings. 90. 26 were lost in the First Baptist Church shooting in Southerland Springs, TX. What is even the right way to respond to evil and darkness like this? I wish I knew the answer. For me and others, we pray. We turn to God for comfort, for understanding and to ask "why."
Some people have really been confused to the response of many Christians. Prayer. Why do we pray? How can we rejoice? What is joyful about a five year old, with all of life in front of her, gunned down by a maniac with an assault rifle? How can Christians rejoice in death? This article is for both those who are not believers of Jesus and those who call themselves followers of Jesus. I am not speaking for anyone but myself. With a humble heart, I want to explain why I cling to the cross of Jesus.
First, Christian, do not grow angry at those who do not understand why we pray. We cannot judge those who simply don't know. Jesus gave us our charge-- love. When the world persecutes, mocks or doesn't understand us, we are not called to retaliate. we are called to love those who persecute, mock and then guide those who do not understand with brotherly love and perfect patience. Jesus told us that this is how people will know that we are his disciples, "By how we love one another."
To those who ask why we pray when evil happens and why we sing praises when terror strikes, I am only answering on how Jesus has guided me. We, as followers of Jesus, are called to mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15). I cannot possibly imagine the hurt, pain and grieving the families of those killed at First Baptist are enduring. Jesus does though. We pray to our God who mourns with us, who cries with us. We pray for our loving Abba (Hebrew term for "dad") to wrap us in His arms to console those who are hurting. When people are hurting, we are not called to have "the right answer." We are called to rest and be in humble reliance to our high priest (Jesus), who is empathetic and understands our suffering, because he suffered loss and experienced hurt as well. Oh how God is always present in times of despair, consoling His children. We rest in the hope that God is present, in good and bad. In humble reliance, we rest in the comfort of our Abba.
Why do we praise God during times like these? How is that even appropriate? 26 people are dead. They are not home for dinner tonight. Moms and dads didn't pick up their kids from school today. There wasn't a precious little girl running to the door to jump in her daddy's arms after work. How can you praise a God after that? Yes, 26 people died. We are called to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We give thanks and rejoice because we know that we will reunite with them one day. Those 26 people are now so much better off than we are. They are in the presence of our Savior, our Creator, our Abba. There are no more tears, no more pain and no more sorrow, only unrelenting joy. As Christ Followers, we cling to the words of Jesus. "Whoever believes in Me will NEVER die" (John 11:25). To us, the grave is not the end. It is truly the beginning of what life was truly suppose to be for us. Forever present with our God.
While we pray for comfort, while we still praise God through these terrible times, we now pray for direction. We pray for wisdom and discernment as we live our lives on this side of heaven. We pray for open hearts and open minds to continue to love as Jesus did and now act to make an impact in a fallen world.