Over four dozen families in Florida are planning unexpected funerals.
That’s because it’s happened again. The horror. The shock. The utter disbelief. Again, evil on full display, unprecedented in its scope, but sadly recognizable in its predictability.
Only the address has changed. San Bernadino is now pronounced Orlando. Only louder.
As we each sort through the emotions of it all, as a pastor, let me humbly offer a few suggestions to guide our thinking and response to what happened early Sunday morning.
It’s such a simple and direct command offered by a man named Paul a long time ago; “…mourn with those who mourn.” Notice what’s not included. No qualifiers, no conditions, no complication. If people are mourning, we should mourn with them. Period. To help us do this over the next few days, every time we read the name of a victim, let’s mentally add the words “…my brother” or “…my sister.” Humans were killed in Orlando. The loved ones of those lost, desperately scrambling to pick up the pieces of a shattered weekend and life, are themselves humans. As are we. That makes us all related. So, let’s weep with our family. Shared humanity is reason enough for shared burden.
It’s also important to remember that bad stuff has always happened, and did so long before any of us arrived on the scene. So it seems at best historically myopic to suggest, as some do, that the world is worse now than it’s ever been. However, I think it is true that the frequency and speed of evil has accelerated. Undoubtedly, plenty of reasons exist for why this is, but I don’t believe we’re without hope. I’m not assuming everyone who reads this believes in God, but if you do, let’s pray for God to confuse the plans of evil people. This of course not only assumes God’s existence, but a God whose power and knowledge and ability to raise up, exceeds that of those who seek to decimate and destroy. I can only speak for myself, but in my experience, this is a very safe assumption. So, let’s sharpen our “thoughts and prayers” to include something specific; a request for wicked plans to be overwhelmed by unexpected complication.
And finally, brace yourself for what’s sure to come – the politicization of Orlando from all sides. Talking heads will debate ad nauseam. Experts will compete for intellectual supremacy. Generalizations, attacks, broadsides, insinuations, and verbal grenades will fly. There’s going to be a lot of noise over the next few days, and unfortunately, a sadly predictable byproduct – the great likelihood of forgetting what this is all about. Fifty families. So, let’s decrease our social media consumption over the next few days. Turn off the noise. Apply a filter to your mind. Meditate and pray a bit more. Think, free from distraction. And fight hard to keep in focus the needs of those who are staring at a future that a few days ago they never could have imagined.
I’m pretty sure in the week ahead we’re going to see one of those awful checkerboard graphics that will show the faces and names of those killed in Orlando. As we scan a picture we’d rather not see, let’s remind ourselves…every one of them was a real person. Every one of them was once a baby held by a mother. And every one of them, God loved. May we do the same for every one of those who live on.
God, help us. Again.