No doubt you've heard about the latest mass shooting in San Bernardino and you've probably seen the New York Daily News' cover today.
This post in this particular blog isn't going to attempt to solve America's problem regarding mass shootings. I hear we need more guns and that we need fewer guns. I hear that we need to fix our mental health system or our background check systems. I'm not sure on the answer to this problem so I will remain a-political in this setting (I'll gladly discuss politics with you in person, but I'll keep this blog out of it all).
What I want to talk about is the headline itself as it pertains to the violence in our world. Is the Daily News right? Now, I'm far from the only one writing or talking on this issue and I'm probably far from the wisest voice in the blogosphere. Many pieces have been written about this subject including Relevant's blog and Yahoo's article just to name two.
Is the Daily News right? I'll focus on the phrase spoken thousands of times today in reaction to this latest tragedy, "Our thoughts and prayers are with them." Do our thoughts and prayers do us any good?
First, our thoughts are nearly pointless. I'm one who has said "Our thoughts and prayers are with you." But when I really think about this phrase I think it is a phrase that Christians should amend. Our thoughts, good vibes, well wishes, etc do absolutely no good to those suffering. Our thoughts, if not thoughts of internal prayer, do us and everyone involved little to no good. You cannot send thoughts in a person's direction. I'm not positive where this popular phrase came from but it seems to be a way for those who pray to pray and those who don't pray to feel included. Thoughts alone don't help the situation.
But our prayers do.
Prayer is a spectacular benefit of having a relationship with the King of the Universe. We have access to the King and can make petitions directly to Him. We can pray for healing and comfort and we can pray for God to fix this situation... and He can fix this situation despite what the Daily News says. Saying you're going to pray for someone may be meaningless, but actually going to the Almighty in prayer on someone's behalf is not meaningless. In fact, doing anything without including prayer is closer to meaningless.
However, the Daily News does strike a chord of truth.
Many people have gone to God in prayer and skipped a huge part of the process. Prayer isn't just about sending a list of wants to God; prayer is also about listening. In your conversations with your Heavenly Father do you ever listen? Now, this post won't go into what that looks like, but do you ever listen? Do you pray with your Bible open and listen for His response? And when I say listen I mean hear and do.
"Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." James 1:22-24
People, it seems that we've had a mirror stuck in our faces and been shocked by what we saw... over and over again, yet we forget it hours later. We've seen violence kill children at an elementary, people at an office party, civilians at a summer camp, etc and we've been horrified by it only to forget and repeat our previous failures. This is stupidity. We must start listening in prayer to what the Word says and we must do it. This discussion isn't about less than what to do with guns, but it's about more than that. Christians, are you doing anything to combat sin? The sin that grows into the action of a mass shooting begins as a seed; what are you doing to stop it?
I don't know the answers to stopping or slowing down this train of mass violence in my country and in our world. But I can tell you something. God is going to fix it. He will fix it ultimately when He returns to earth to reign, but He's also our only hope to fix it now. Skip the thoughts and go straight to prayer about this. And when you go to prayer and God informs you how He wants to use you in the solution, whether in big ways or small, be a doer not a hearer only.
So, is the Daily News right?
In a word. No.
But it strikes a chord that we must hear... faith without works is dead. So, let us be prayer warriors with a living faith because that's the only way we're going to be part of the victory when God Does Fix This!
Please pray for that God fixes this today.