I wanted to write something about the shooting that happened last night only about 10 miles from my house. At first I was afraid to say anything about it, because I don’t want to add to the pain people are feeling and I don’t want to get the story wrong or make false assumptions. But I thought it would be wrong to stay silent just because I’m afraid.
When I first heard about the shooting, I was startled, but I didn’t feel personally affected. As I did more research, I realized that, neither were any of the media sites. The reaction of people on social media sites was huge. Many people were thinking and feeling and wondering about it. Many people were asking for prayer. I was going to just re-post a status asking for prayer and move on. But then God convicted me that I’m kinda really a hypocrite and I hadn’t even been in prayer myself.
I do most of my hardcore praying by typing, since I get distracted when I pray in my head. I was gonna attempt to write some kind of profound analysis on my blog, but God convinced me to stop and just write to Him. Not like I have any good answers anyway. So instead I decided I wanted to invite you guys to pray along with me. You’re allowed to join in even if you’re mad at God or haven’t talked to Him in a while or don’t believe in Him. I figure if evil, particularly this evil, is something God cares about personally, then it’s something in which I’m going to involve myself personally, too. If you want to do something about this, let’s talk to the Hero who can conquer every evil.
God, you’re hurting over this more than any of us even have the capacity to hurt. When we experience something like this, there’s a point where it’s just too much, where everything becomes numb. The fact that evil exists in this world makes you mad, it makes you want to punish people, it makes you sad, and it makes you want to save lives.
The fact that evil exists doesn’t mean that You don’t. The fact that I am hurting doesn’t mean you aren’t, too. I don’t know if, given the chance, I would really lose my life so these victims wouldn’t have to. But you’ve already done that anyway.
If humans are capable of committing a massacre after a few years of harbored bitterness, pride, and anger — the same things I have harbored in my own heart many times in my life — how could humans possibly offer any hope? Lord, you are our only hope.
I don’t even know what to pray for. I guess, first, I pray that people would turn to You. Simply reading stories on the internet, or posting inspiring pictures so others will post inspiring pictures, or being mad or sad, or pretending it’s not that big of a deal, or being relieved and moving on — none of these things will do anything to improve the human condition. None of these things will bring back a lost life. None of these things will bring back two lost lives. No number of books written or memorials created or media trends started will be as valuable as those lives. If we don’t retaliate with a hell of a lot of good and love and sharing true hope with people without shame, evil’s gonna win out. Thank you that you have already won the battle in the world; now the battle is in our hearts.
God, you’re the one who gives humans value. If I could have prevented this, would I have tried, or would I have made an excuse not to act or respond? If I could save a life in the future, would I do it? I’ve failed in this before. Lord, I pray that, in light of this tragedy, Your people would not miss out on a chance to save a life, even when it means starting an awkward conversation, or taking an even greater risk.
God, I want to save a life. This isn’t an isolated incident. A lot of people try to take justice into their own hands, trying to define right and wrong by their own twisted standards.
This killer didn’t think these people deserved to live. He didn’t give them a chance. He didn’t kill them because of what they did. He killed them because he believed himself to have the authority to decide when people live and when they die, based on his own judgment and purpose. God, nobody has the right to do that. Nobody except You, the one who thankfully never changes the rules or the definition of human rights, but who has had it right all along.
Only You have the right to decide when our souls divorce our bodies. Only you see the big picture as well as the tiniest little girl. Only you can bring a soul into existence and knit together its body in the womb. Only you have the right to take it away. All of our other rights are blessings given to us by you.
We can’t take rights that don’t belong to us. That’s theft, which is a crime, just like murder is a crime. You don’t have to care about whether our lives are fair, but you do, because you value each one of us. If I had the power to choose death for someone… you know what, please never give me that power. I don’t want it. I don’t know if I’d make the right choice. I don’t know what kind of person I’d become.
Massacres don’t happen for no reason, Lord. You know this shooter’s heart. You know what he’s gone through in the past. I hear he’s an educated man. He knows that there’s evil in the world. More than that, he knows that evil isn’t just out there, it’s within each one of us. He has been hurt by that evil. He has been deceived by that evil, and he let it get the best of him.
Lord, I pray that evil wouldn’t reign in our hearts. A lot of us will be scarred by this evil attack for the rest of our lives, and it will affect our families in more ways than we can know or control. A lot of us will just move on from this story, hearing about it from across the country or even the world, but we’ll be hurt by more acts of evil. Lord, I pray that we wouldn’t succumb to that evil, believing that, because we’re victims of it, that we should just let it consume us and make us bitter, or that we have no choice.
I pray that, for the people affected severely by this incident, that they would not turn to addictions or bottling up their emotions or ways to comfort themselves that will never truly satisfy them. Help them come to you to know that you understand what it means to see your closest family member suffer and die without seeing justice. Help them share their pain with you and receive mercy and comfort from you, the one who made their soul and who knows more about them than they do.
Lord, don’t let us turn to politicians for the ultimate answers and relief and healing. No matter what political party they’re in, what they think about gun control, or what their agenda is, they’re not the answer. And even though they have responsibility to make laws and figure out where their money goes, it is every American’s responsibility to uphold those laws and to control their own resources of time and money. Lord, help us devote our time to praying against injustice, convincing others to trust in You to overcome the evil in their hearts and in their world, and to take responsibility to uphold the law ourselves. And ultimately, we will fail, but I know you will not fail us when we trust in you.
I don’t have the answers, God. I don’t even know all the questions that need to be asked. Lord, you know everything, and you know the plan that you have to bring us to you. Don’t let us harden our hearts against you. That will only be another victory for evil, which is Your enemy. Let us surrender to you.
It’s true, we are really very small. I like to think I could change things. I think that if You allow it, I can. But I am not God. I don’t know everything. I couldn’t spout off a simple political or even psychological solution to prevent evil thoughts from becoming evil deeds. If I couldn’t prevent something like this, how could I understand it and come to a conclusion about why it happened or how it started and what led up to it?
This is confusing for us, and You know. But don’t let us hate back, and don’t let us just forget about it or just move on because we don’t know how to handle it. You hear our prayers. Even the prayers we forget, or that we only pray once, or even the prayers that are just two words, or no words at all — they do not fall on ears that are too busy or careless. Help us to pray knowing that there will be an answer. Help us seek that answer actually believing that it exists. It’s hard to give up my pride and give into the idea of hope.
God, you see to the heart, and you know what the people in my town and beyond need for healing. Ultimately, after all the questions are asked, all the feelings expressed, when we start looking for answers, our search will only stop when we meet You.
I don’t know what happened to the souls of those who lost their lives. Whether they believe in Heaven and Hell or not, they are real. Whether the killer believed in laws or not, he is experiencing only a small portion of the consequences today. I pray that the victims got many chances in their lives to meet you so you could cleanse them from the hold that evil had on them. I pray that they are sitting with you right now. I wish that everyone who was injured would recover perfectly, but some might be left with disabilities even after recovery. For those who are still alive, let this be another reminder that death is real, that it happens to everybody, and that it’s better to know what’s on the other side of death before it’s too late. God, you don’t want us guessing about something this big. Thank you for giving me confidence that I’m going to be with you in heaven because You lived a perfect life and gave the credit to me so I wouldn’t have to suffer your wrath. I can’t wait to hang out with you forever. Let’s invite everyone.
Give me the motivation and the ability to seek you with everything I’ve got, because you have not called me to give anything less. May we all seek you and be found by you, Dad, because your arms are long enough to pick us up when we need to be loved. And your shoulders are strong enough to bear all our weight when we’re weary.