Friday, October 2, 2015

Our Response When Bad Things Happen: The Umpqua Shooting

Bad things happen. Unfortunately, this is a reality in the world that we live in.

If you've followed the news recently I'm sure you heard about the shooting at the Umpqua Community College yesterday. It's heartbreaking. I find myself wondering how anyone could do what the shooter did. How could anyone take innocent lives?

Sitting here on a rainy day in Washington, D.C. I feel at a loss. Helpless and ineffective to convey adequate compassion to those affected by this man's heinous crimes. The wake of his destruction will affect more than those injured or killed, it will ripple out to family, friends, and the community.

It comes back to two things for me. The actions I can take. I can pray. And I can watch.

Prayer. It can sometimes feel inactive, but it is the best and most effective response. It suffices to calm me and remind me who is really in control. It also focuses my heart on the One who has the power and the might to bring wisdom into the situation, no matter how bleak it may look.
At times when things appear darkest, the light of the Lord shines the brightest.
Watching. This may sound odd, but hear me out. A line from one of the blog posts that's allegedly associated with the shooter caught my attention:

"People like him [talking about another recent shooter] have nothing left to live for, and the only thing left to do is lash out at a society that has abandoned them." (source)

Nothing excuses the shooters actions, but this statement gives us a window. When I read this, I think about the fact that the person who wrote it (shooter or not) needs the love of Christ. That's obvious, but what is also clear is the fact that they were seeking acceptance in a "society" that abandoned them. They were looking in the wrong place. What they thought would satisfy--fame, notoriety, recognition, acceptance from others--would only suffice to leave them empty again.

In the wake of this tragedy, and in light of the fact that there are others in the world who feel this way, I urge us to watch and to act. Aside from prayer, an action we can take is to love. To have our eyes seeking out those who feel abandoned--whether by society, their family, their friends, or their community--and to show them that the Love of Christ is more than able to transform their lives.

Let us remember to love. To love everyone. To love always. And to love well.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. - Romans 12:9-10

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. - 1 John 4:7

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. - Luke 6:35

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