When tragedy strikes Americans from diverse backgrounds, opposing political views and various religious beliefs seem to come together. Even if it’s for a short period of time.
Yet on Sunday morning when a deranged gunman opened fire in a place of worship in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others, there has been an attitude of indignation directed toward people of faith.
While well-intentioned people expressed their “thoughts and prayers” for the community and the victims of Sutherland Springs, Twitter and other social media exploded with derisive comments. A few examples.
“They were praying when it happened. They don’t need our prayers.”
“The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they would still be alive.”
“If you pray for victims of gun violence while doing nothing else—your prayers may as well be bullets for the next mass shooting. @GOP”
There were many more such comments not fit to publish on ThePreachersWord.
Regardless of one’s position on gun laws, political affiliation, or religious beliefs, the ridiculing rhetoric was uncalled for. It was cruel, insulting and disparaging to people of good faith.
I suppose most, if not all, who mock “thoughts and prayers” don’t believe in God, or in the peace that comes with prayer.
While reading through the Psalms in recent weeks, I am impressed with David’s frequent and transparent communication with God. As he faced trouble, trial, and adversity, he turned to the Lord for consolation and comfort. In Psalm 18, he acknowledges God’s sovereignty in delivering him from the hand of his enemies.
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
Prayer is the means for us to talk to God. To share our thoughts.To express our hurts. To seek His help. And to ask for His guidance.
In times of distress, discouragement or even disaster, it is good to come before the throne of God. He is in His temple. He hears. He cares. He answers prayer.
We understand this is a concept that is foreign to irreligious people. For many, it seems ineffective, or maybe even ineffectual. However, when people are heartbroken, it is insensitive to malign Christians for their faith. At the same time, let us not respond in kind. Let us return good for evil.
The fact is we live in a broken, fallen, and wicked world. Since the first sin in the garden of Eden, evil has been present. The first murder was committed before guns were invented. Our problems are not political or social, they are spiritual.
The answer to evil is not found in enacting more laws, it begins by changing hearts. Wicked and irrational men will always find a way to commit crimes and perpetuate their evil deeds on the innocent.
In times like these, we need more, not less prayer. Prayer for the hurting. Prayer for peace. Prayer for our leaders. Prayer for a better day.
Prayer has been at the heart of our country’s founding. Our first President, George Washington, called upon the blessings of the Almighty in his farewell address. When our country was torn apart by civil war, President Lincoln frequently invoked the name of God. Today, every session of Congress begins with prayer.
The answer to our nation’s ills and our personal problems is not a cessation of prayer. But more prayer. Let us “pray without ceasing.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Sutherland Springs.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman