Today, I think we as a nation grieve. I have seen post after post from people regarding the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Every new update causes me to grieve more. For the last day, I have struggled to find the words to say and things to share that can adequately show my grief and brokenness. And that’s where I leave it…brokenness. The tragedy of the shooting is more than the lives that were lost or the people who were hurt. The tragedy of the shooting is more than an evil act. Facts of the incident are still coming in and we won’t have all the details for probably a while. And yet the facts we do have don’t bring comfort and the questions still unanswered still bring concern and pain. The majority of the posts I have seen online state something along the lines of praying for victims all the while asking the question of “why?” which remains unanswered.
But if I may, I’d like to share with you my thoughts on this tragedy as well as an idea of how to move forward.
Every survivor and every victim’s family and every first responder that night will never be the same again because of the shooting. Their lives are forever changed. Tragedy is awful, painful, and no one can truly bring the right form of comfort to someone in grief like this. No amount of politics, church, counseling, or anything else can change the past and the wounds that happened or the lives that were lost. I won’t pretend to tell you that moving on is easy. Though I have gone through personal tragedies, I have never experienced anything like surviving something like this shooting. This is what I do know: that in the wake of another tragedy, the Columbine High School shooting, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. It was out of that darkness, that I came to life in Jesus. So friend, if I can offer you any comfort, let me say that God is not absent in the midst of even the darkest days. He is not hiding and he is not silent. God is grieving with each every person grieving this tragedy. He grieves the lives taken and the lives changed. A common question asked after a tragedy is how a loving God can allow for this to happen. Honestly I don’t fully understand tragedy and the why it happens, but I do know that God gave us free will to choose to live how we want, which in turn means some people, many actually, choose to live in evil ways. And its in those evil ways- sin- that these sort of tragedies happen. But just as some choose to live in sin and evil, some choose to rise out of it.
So when tragedy happens, God is still present.
God is present in the midst of the gunfire as police officers run toward the sounds of gunfire as others run away. God is present in the nurses and doctors and EMTs that strive to save and help as many lives as possible. God is present in the stranger who jumps on top of another to shield them from the piercing rounds. God is present in the people using their vehicles and the concert rails in order to shuffle wounded and others to safety. You see in the midst of the darkness, we tend to see people- often we call them heroes- rise above differences, agendas, and then do something powerful: love thy neighbor, even if that neighbor is a stranger.
We still need to each personally choose to live for God or not. We still need to choose on how we want to live and love him. But I believe that in the midst of tragedy and darkness, God’s image that is in each and every one of us, can be revealed. God’s image that was created in each of us at our beginning, is one that reflects his heart. You see when we love others, when we care for them, when we tend to the wounded and hurting, when we sacrifice, and when we count the cost of such sacrifices, we reveal God’s heart for us. God loves us all tremendously. God loves us so much that he made the greatest sacrifice in the world for us just so we can choose to love him (or not). I believe in the Devil and believe he wants only destruction for us, so when we face tragedy or difficulties, we only see the bad. But friend I challenge you, that as we are in the wake of the worst mass shooting in our country’s history, to not only see the bad. See that God was and is present. See that God is here for you, for me, for them, to show us that redemption, and healing, and full of hope. Every story I have seen since the shooting, have been ones that reveal God showing up through people. As the gunman shot into the crowd piercing them with deadly rounds, God pierced through the tragedy with His love. The devil doesn’t win this. Evil doesn’t get the victory here.
This world is redeemable. You are redeemable. There is hope through Him.