Another week in America and another mass shooting.
As the latest shocking display of humanity at its worst unfolded on our television screens, social media posts quickly followed. Most posts seem to be expressions of sorrow, pain, fear, and frustration. In what has become numbingly normal, images and hashtags were created to express sympathy. Often these images included the phrase ‘Thoughts and Prayers’.
Predictably, the fact that some would offer prayers seemed to offend those people for whom prayer is a foreign concept.
Anyone with a shred of sanity is horrified, saddened, and a bit angry. Innocent people were mowed down by a coward with a gun. Children are dead. Dreams are shattered. Families are without siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, children, and grandchildren. These attacks are an assault on our sense of normalcy and innocence. Everyone paying attention is affected. We are all shaken to our core.
This week, First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs was ‘EveryChurch U.S.A.’
Innately we all desire for death to lose. A Theist and an atheist want the same thing, we want evil to be defeated. Nearly everyone desires peace, harmony, love, and joy.
So are our ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ enough?
Because nothing is ‘enough’ to soothe the pain of the death of innocence.
Nothing Is ‘Enough’:
Nothing is ‘enough’ to bring the victims back to life. Whether it’s 58 in Vegas, 26 in Texas, 49 in Orlando or the 1 who died on the streets of Baltimore last night, nothing is ‘enough’. There is a void that will not be filled by legislation, hashtags, or keyboard outrage.
Dear Christian, when atheists taunt you for praying, they are projecting their own need for validation and meaning apart from faith. Please understand that the attack on ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ is a way for people to feel in control of something; anything. It’s not personal, for you. Simply understand that you can avoid reacting in anger and instead respond in love.
They hurt too. Your neighbors who do not know God are hurting. Instead of becoming bitter, do what Jesus did and have compassion. (Matthew 9:36) Have compassion for the person who is without God and yet has to wrestle inwardly with God’s sense of right and wrong being written on their hearts. (Romans 2:14-15)
In the mind of someone who doesn’t yet know God, sin proves that faith in God is worthless. To those of us who know Him, we understand that sin is the reason we need a Savior.
If you’re at a loss over tragedy and you genuinely wish to pray, do it.
- Pray for the families of the victims as they will need supernatural comfort. It’s not ‘natural’ to mourn the loss of children, parents, or siblings. We need God’s peace and comfort.
- Pray for the greater community. In a small town, not one person will be exempt from the painful ripple effects brought about by this act of evil.
- Pray for the children of the community as they will be watching the adults for cues of how to handle a loss.
- Pray for the first responders who see this side of humanity on a daily basis and find themselves silently drifting into PTSD.
- Pray with power and conviction that God can and will show Himself to people who are yet without hope. You are praying to God who is close to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18)
- Pray for bound wounds, pray against the spirit of despair and bitterness.
- Pray for hope, healing, restoration.
- Pray that God will, in some way that we cannot see from our vantage point, bring good from evil.
The atheist wants utopia. Utopia doesn’t exist, here.