sutherland springs–responding to the tragedy and horror

The kids were lacing their shoes for school, as the news blared of another mass shooting–this time in a church–First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Jared looked at me over their heads with a question in his eyes communicating “do we let them watch? or do we shield them?”

We have often chosen to expose our children to the reality of evil in the world so we can discuss world events from a Biblical worldview and prepare them for a world where evil is present and sin is celebrated.

As the news continued to play, I questioned not whether my children should be exposed to reality but whether I should.  I didn’t want to watch.  I didn’t want to know.

Every time they said “First Baptist Church”, I thought “I go to a First Baptist Church. My husband pastors a First Baptist Church. Are we next, Lord?”

Fear and terror gripped my heart.

And for a moment, the terrorist had accomplished his intended goal. Fear was awakened in my heart, doubt was stirred and my faith was shaken. For a moment, I yielded to angst. But that moment did not define me.

And whatever emotions have crept up in light of this recent tragedy, we must refuse to allow this hellish evil to win.

But, how? How do we respond when evil is parading through our streets spreading violence as if it were candy thrown from a passing parade float?

We REFOCUS.

It is tempting to focus on the circumstances in front of and around us, to point fingers or declare defeat.  However,  God’s desire is for us to refocus our attention on following Him.  That’s what really matters.

We LOVE.

Whether victim or perpetrator, we all share a common need for love and acceptance.

“Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.”–1 Peter 4:8

When you’re met with someone who is hurting, show love.  When you are hurting, show love.  When you don’t understand what’s happening around you, show love.  To love in the midst of tragedy, uncertainty and terror demonstrates your faith in a God who is bigger than your fear and your pain.

Faith is more about how we love than how we live and how we live for God is determined by how we love. (1 John 13:35)

God calls us to display our love for Jesus by following HIm–no matter where the journey leads and no matter what happens to us.

We TRUST

Trust makes all the difference.  When we entrust ourselves to our faithful Creator, we can continue to do good even as we face suffering for the sake of Christ.

The first century church endured intense suffering and their hearts must have asked many of the same questions as our’s.

When Peter, the trusted disciple of Jesus, faced suffering, this was his encouragement:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him because He cares about you.”–1 Peter 5:6-7

Responding to tragedy doesn’t require you know all the answers, it requires you trust in a faithful, loving God.

6 Comments

  1. I am here in Italy and it seems like thousands of miles away from this tragedy. But here, in Santa Chiara, our small out of the way study center, I find a young architect student who this church was her church! She sang in the choir, she knew all those people! My only response was to go and seek her out in her room and throw my arms around her and love her and mourn with her. She is in our prayers along with her family of FBC. Praise the Lord, her parents had come to visit and they were in Rome. Now on their way here to mourn and to comfort each other. Please join me in praying specifically for Brittany.

    1. Oh my! Lord, we lift Brittany and her parents to you. In a time of deep grief, it seems impossible to make sense of why some live and some die. It is in these moments we lean in and trust that you hold our days in your hands. You are the true comforter.

  2. Thank you, Bobi Ann, for this deep reminder of focusing on God and His love. I wish I could respond in words to you about how much I needed your words of reality with our Lord’s perspective. Just know I appreciate each & every email from you!!

    In Christ’s love & mine,
    Sherill Stewart

  3. Bobi Ann,
    This is just what I needed today! Your God-inspired words and scripture are a much needed balm for my aching heart and confused mind. When something like this happens, I become temporarily paralyzed emotionally and spiritually. Thank you for responding to this situation so quickly and giving me these perfect reminders of whose I am, where my focus should be, and how I can respond. I will be sharing your thoughts will others. Hugs to you!.

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