Our national and local headlines strike more terror in our hearts than the most horrific scenes ever released from Hollywood. A second school invasion in Colorado rocks our false sense of security. A lone gunman invading the serenity of an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania a few days later shocks us to the core.
In the wake of such seemingly unthinkable violence, how do we respond? What are we to think, to feel, to do? We function in an unpredictable world that challenges the roots of our faith at the very epicenter—how do we comprehend such evil? The fact that we know about it affects the way we perceive our world. Do we change the T.V. channel; ignore it, and hope it never happens to us? Or do we consider our role more carefully as we adjust to the darkness that seems to be gaining ground all around us.
When faced with profound evil, we find an equally profound formula in Paul’s words, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. ”
These elements define the Kingdom of God. When our thoughts are governed by these boundaries, our response to sudden and unexpected evil becomes an immediate Kingdom response. It allows us to search for and bring God’s solution into the darkest of situations.
While it is impossible to escape the senseless tragedies that take place every day in our own backyards, we can alleviate the pain of others and leave an imprint of Christ in the midst of that darkness. Simple things can make a big difference:
• Lend a heartfelt word of encouragement, even though you may be a total stranger. With a few minutes of research, you can find out where to send a card, flowers or a special note to someone whose life has been touched by senseless tragedy.
• If something in the headlines moves your sense of compassion, act on it. Don’t let the moment become lost to your daily routine. Step out and find a way to help. God uses passionate people to do extraordinary things.
•Use the headline news to order a special time of prayer or fasting on a daily or weekly basis, dedicated to those left in the wake of the frightening stories you have encountered.
• Seize every opportunity to magnify God and the Gospel to others. You never know who is crossing your path. For all of the tragedy that makes the headline news, how much more has been averted by a simple encounter with someone who inspired a different pattern of thinking by introducing a stranger to the truth of God’s infinite love in action?
In every tragic story, those closest to the situation usually reveal their shock and disbelief. It never crossed their mind that such horror was lurking in their midst. We should take strong note of that reaction accepting that evil can rear its ugly head at any time, in any way. Should we fear it? Of course not, but to ignore the statement it makes in our world every day is as unthinkable as the evil itself.
Jesus said we are to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. In other words, contemplate the world around you and bring the Kingdom that is in you, to those who need it. We have been empowered to change the circumstances going on around us. Taking action reminds us that in our faith we have a purpose beyond our abilities or understanding. In Him, even senseless tragedy can take on a course of greater good.
The Amish community, in the midst of their grief, urged the public to contribute to a fund for the widow and children of the gunman in Pennsylvania who had taken the lives of their children. In the grips of their own personal tragedy, they took the time to embrace another set of victims—the gunman’s family. God’s love is at work, even in a twisted and dark situation that defies logic. His light is still shining in Georgetown, Pennsylvania and the statement of evil worked through a deranged gunman falls silent in the shadow of His saints in action.
We can learn from this remarkable portrait, arising from the aftermath of loss and sorrow. When faced with the unthinkable, God’s love can render evil powerless when we step out and let it shine through each one of us. Each day we have the opportunity to redefine the events that take place around us. Our individual efforts will ease the pain, heal, restore, and bring about good as we reflect Him in the wake of the unthinkable.
Phil 4: 8 NIV
So true, and so well expressed, Birdie. What a stunning example of Jesus' love in action that the Amish have given the world. They demonstrate that "ministry of reconciliation" God has entrusted to us for His Kingdom. God be praised!