Here we are again. This time we find ourselves mourning the loss of those who were senselessly murdered in the Orlando shooting—now the deadliest mass shooting in American history. But no matter how many shootings or acts of terrorism we see in the news or experience … it doesn’t make the current tragedy any less tragic nor do we mourn any less. You are probably asking many questions such as: why did this happen, why did Omar Mir Seddique Mateen feel he should do this, how can I pray, and is there anything I can do to help the victims and their families?
“Orlando marks the beginning of a new phase in our nation’s history: The worst mass-shooting on American soil is now an Islamist terror attack. Our country has to respond, and it will respond.”
How can we respond and what can we do to help? Joe Carter, for The Gospel Coalition, lists 5 Ways Christians Can Respond to the Orlando Shooting. Here are 3 of those ways:
You may want to do more, and there are other things you can do … but prayer remains the most important. Carter provides a prayer written by TGC contributor Scotty Smith, for how to pray in the midst of pain:
Dear Lord Jesus, we abandon ourselves to you tonight—we come running with our tears and our fears, our anger and our anguish, our lament and our longings. We collapse in your presence, with the assurance of your welcome, needing the mercies of your heart.
Some stories are just too much for us to absorb; some evil just too great to conceive; some losses beyond all measurability. We need your tears and your strength tonight. That you wept outside the tomb of a beloved friend frees us to groan and mourn; that you conquered his death with yours, frees us to hope and wait.
But we turn our thoughts from ourselves to the families who have suffered an unconscionable violation of heart and all sensibilities. Bring your presence to bear, Lord Jesus, by your Spirit and through your people. May your servants weep with those who weep and wail with those who wail. Extend your tear wiping hand—reach into this great tragedy with an even greater grace.
Pray alone, pray with others, and pray with your church for the families who have lost loved ones, for the victims who are injured, and for God to act in this tragedy in ways that we cannot.
In the chaos and despair we often jump into the fray, as Carter says; we want to learn all the facts, we want to choose a side, and we want to vent our frustrations to others because we are angry—and rightly so. But Carter writes, “Instead of tweeting and posting, we should seek to take practical actions,” after prayer such as donating blood (Oneblood.org) or donating money (Red Cross, GoFundMe). Pausing can also help us reset our minds and turn our thoughts back to God, seeking what He wants us to seek and acting how He wants us to act. Carter reminds us,
“As Christians we are called to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). Yet in times of tragedy we may be tempted instead to try to explain and justify rather than to simply be silent and grieve with those who are grieving.”
To have hope, there has to be a reason for hope. Carter states,
“Christians should be the most realistic people on Earth. While we may support certain policies and solutions that we believe can foster peace, we must always be quick to admit that the root cause of violence and hate is sin.
…As the English writer Samuel Johnson once said, people need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed. We probably don’t need to be instructed about how to react. We know what to do. We’ve faced this situation before and will face it again all too soon. We just need to be reminded of our call to muster the courage and respond in a way that brings honor to our Savior.”
Crosswalk Contributor, Russell Moore, encourages,
“As the Body of Christ, though, we can love and serve and weep and mourn. And we can remind ourselves and our neighbors that this is not the way it is supposed to be. We mourn, but we mourn in the hope of a kingdom where blood is not shed and where bullets never fly.”
Sin is the cause of this destruction, despair, and loss … but Christ is our steady hope. Our hope in Him is unwavering, He is the promise that has been fulfilled, and though He has not yet returned to make this world new He has promised to be with us to the end of the age:
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
To read Nabeel Qureshi and Joe Carter’s articles in full please visit Mourning Orlando, Longing for Truth and Love and 5 Ways Christians Can Respond to the Orlando Shooting.
After Orlando, Can We Still Weep Together?
Publication date: June 13, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.