So here we are again, grieving for those whose lives have been forever altered by the senseless violence perpetrated by a sick and sinful individual. Too often, we offer thoughts and prayers because it just seems like the right thing to do rather than because our hearts genuinely mirror the brokenness felt by our heavenly Father. Let’s not forget that the Lord to whom we pray is grieving just as strongly as those who were harmed by the shooting, and a quick prayer devoid of any real intent or purpose is likely to ring as hollow to him as it would to those mourning in Highland Park today.
A variety of things and people are being blamed for the growing mass shooting problem in America: access to guns, social isolation, politicians, talk show hosts, authorities, harmful ideas, and more. Behind events this tragic are a number of contributing factors. At the same time, we can no longer think of mass shootings as isolated incidents. They must be understood as indications of social breakdown, along with spiking rates of addiction, overdoses, violent crime, suicide, sexual confusion, and even airplane incidents.
It is plausible that you know someone who fits the profile of a mass shooter or that you know someone who is trying to help such a person. If so, now is the time to act. Now is the time to intercede for them, asking God for his intervention, healing, and help. Now is the time to alert professionals who can help and to do what you can to offer your support and encouragement. If no one comes to mind, pray for those he is calling into such ministry and help them through your church and community support systems.
Every child and adult murdered yesterday was made in the image of God and loved unconditionally by him. Every victim is being mourned today by loved ones whose lives will never be the same. In response to such unfathomable loss and pain, President Biden was right to cite God’s promise: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Near in the Hebrew means to be “imminent, as close as possible.”