Then he opened fire.
Early reports are saying more than 58 people are dead. Five hundred have been taken to hospitals.
It was an act of madness. There is no way to make sense of this, don’t even try. You cannot reason with madness. You cannot swallow the darkness.
How long Oh Lord?
I have said this many times on this blog, and will say it over and over again. I will say it until I truly believe it. I will say it so that you will hold me to it… here it is:
I refuse to believe that evil wins. I refuse to allow this act of madness to breed bitterness in my heart. No one can make me hate. I will love my way through this. When I am faced with unspeakable evil I will refuse to lash out in hate and anger, but I will only love, love, love. I will believe that love is stronger than hate–that love wins. That the light is winning. I will continue to hope in the face of evil and it will be my ultimate act of defiance.
What should we do?
First: Don’t get used to this violence. This not how it has to be. Don’t tune it out. Don’t try to distract or numb yourself. We have to bear witness to what happened.
Second: Pick a side. Pick the side of light. Never make friends with the darkness. “Rage, Rage, Rage, against the dying of the light.” Weep with those who weep, to be sure, but never let evil tempt you to hate. Refuse to let this be one more thing that causes us to lunge at each other’s throats.
Third: Take the sadness and the horror and channel it into energy that motivates you to pray for those whose lives have been turned upside down. Pray that our society can find a way to live together without killing each other. Pray for justice, and mercy, and peace.
Fourth: Consider the idea that we might be able to come together around common sense gun laws that restrict sales of guns that are only designed to kill human beings. I’m a gun owner and grew up hunting. But I have become convinced that selling assault rifles to the general public is simply unwise. You don’t have to land where I have, but I challenge you to at least consider the idea as you mourn with those who mourn today.
Five: The most radical thing to do right now is continue to pray and act and think and live in hope. Hug your family. Be good to one another. Let us prove by the way we love each other that the light is still winning, despite this act of madness.
When my own words fail me, I know it’s time for the Psalms. I will be spending a lot of time reading Psalm 31 today:
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
as for me, I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
9 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
17 Let me not be put to shame, Lord,
for I have cried out to you;
but let the wicked be put to shame
and be silent in the realm of the dead.
18 Let their lying lips be silenced,
for with pride and contempt
they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
19 How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people!
The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.