Reflections on Orlando

One hundred of our fellow citizens were killed or injured last weekend because of one deranged person. Comments from all parts of the political spectrum seek answers and suggest reasons. This heartbreak incorporates almost all of today’s political agenda: religion, identity, guns, freedom, security, and mental health.

As a practicing (note: practicing, not perfect) Christian in these times I ask “Why?” like so many others. Why would someone choose to intentionally harm strangers? Why does someone wipe out life, instead of providing life more abundantly? Why does someone select violence instead of peace?

Jesus himself asked “Why?” At the time of His crucifixion, He cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Being perfect and being God, Jesus knew exactly why he would suffer on the cross, yet he still asked. His example gives us the similar freedom to ask our heavenly father the similar question, “Why?”

Job asked “Why?” He asked that question five times in Chapter 3. Why was he born? Why is light given to those in misery and life to the bitter of soul? Why?

As part of my routine as a practicing—not perfect—Christian, I read devotionals in the morning. Today’s devotionals were Greg Laurie’s “Asking Why” and Charles Stanley’s “A Balanced Prayer.” Neither one of them mentioned our nation’s most recent tragedy, but the substance of both was about Orlando and our broken world.

Laurie suggests that it is okay to ask “Why?”, but we shouldn’t expect an answer. Even if God gave us an answer, we wouldn’t understand it anyway (consider all the miracles He’s performed, and still so many doubt). We are people of promises, not explanations, according to Laurie.

Stanley reminds us of Jehoshaphat’s Prayer in Second Chronicles. Jehoshaphat prayed in front of the assembly and after proclaiming the Lord’s sovereignty and strength, he said “Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us…. For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

Job, Jehoshaphat, and Jesus all cried to God in their distress, asking “Why?” Why do we exist? Why are people intent on hurting us? Why do we feel abandoned? During the time of questioning, they looked towards God.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he encouraged that church to make their requests known to God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. The promise made to that church was that God will guard their hearts and minds with the peace that is found in Jesus, a peace that surpasses all understanding.

The message to the Philippians was to pray with a combination of humility, earnestness, and gratitude. By example, that’s how we should pray as well. But how do we pray–in good faith–like that when something like this horrific episode happens?  As a Christian during these moments, I only know that I can pray that I am thankful that there is a God who created us, who loves us, and who promises us His peace. The promise for peace may not be this day or the next, but we will receive it. And that peace will guard our hearts and minds—to me, meaning both the emotional and intellectual parts of ourselves. The peace will be complete within us.

As we continue to reflect on this tragedy, it is my prayer that those families, friends, and first responders in this horrific attack will somehow find peace and that God will provide for them. I also pray that God will protect us from future attacks. Most importantly, I am thankful knowing that one day, God will provide us with the answer to our question of “Why?” and at that time, we will experience the complete peace with Him and with each other.

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