Less than a week ago I woke up to the news of the violent school shooting that took place in Santa Fe, Texas. Ten people were killed and another thirteen wounded by a high school gunman. I am still praying for the families as the attention from the media has moved on to other things, knowing the hurt and pain is still very, very fresh for them. Though this happened in Texas and not in my home state, the whole United States was affected by this egregious act.
I knew I would start seeing the posts that say, “Pray for Santa Fe” on the day of, which is well meaning and I hope is not just a knee-jerk response just to post something but hopefully they are genuinely praying. For me, I had to evaluate my response. I think sometimes when I hear about evil acts I sometimes don’t always respond well because first, you hear it and you need to bear the news that you hear. It should trouble us when we hear about tragedy. It should trouble us that this even happens and how often it happens. It is a hard thing to hear and to bear and you can play naïve by overlooking information. Second, I think others pass over this news quickly because there is a sense of responsibility in how one should respond. If you do not take time to listen, you can not have responsibility. As a Christian, there is a biblical mandate to stand up against evil. The Bible says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them (Ephesians 5:11 ESV).” I believe there should be a responsibility for Christians, especially in America with our constitution and rights to be able to expose injustice and evil.
As I read the news that morning and even to this day, I remind myself that the what happened that morning was bad. It is a tragedy for that community and to our nation. It is plain evil. This happened to real people. I need to respond the right way. I need to teach children how to respond and how to grieve. How should a Christian respond and how can a Christian guard from becoming calloused to responding to evil.
First, yes evil exists.
Evil does exist. Evil things come in different forms. People can do bad and hurtful, evil things. There can be bad events, evil events. I wonder as we are exposed to more and more news footage of school shootings, terrorist attacks, disasters and the such that we respond less and less. There is a danger to becoming numb to the reality that evil does exist. Tragedy befalls on the innocent and given the times, we are seeing more and more (Matthew 24:3-8).
The Bible reminds us that in this life we will have tribulation (John 16:33). Another passage reminds us not the be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you (1 Peter 4:12). There is the reality of evil existing. But we do not lose hope as some may think, this brings me to the second point (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Second, God is in Charge
As the Bible reminds us that in this life we will have tribulation (John 16:33), the rest of that verse says, “But take heart for I [Jesus] has overcome the world”. Jesus did do this through his perfect, sinless life, death, and resurrection. As Jesus has overcome the world, how come there are still these evil actions that take place? Yes, nothing is impossible for him. We must remind ourselves that He is doing a work in spite of all the evil we see.
We long for Christ’s return, when he will make all wrong things right (2 Peter 3:13). Jesus died and rose again conquering sin and death, yes! We live in light of this truth knowing as Scripture points to, things are getting worse before they get better (Matthew 24:3—8). So, the hope we have is not in this moment or even in this life, but eternity with the Lord.
Third, these are real people who have been hurt not just a story
When we read or hear about the tragedy of other people we sometimes forget that there people who feel, who hurt, and are grieving or who has died. As a Christian we respond with first and foremost with prayer (Matthew 6:13). As we pray for strength and for endurance in this life (Ephesians 6:10) we also pray for God’s comfort upon them (2 Corinthians 1:3).
The Bible reminds us that we are called to respond that when others grieve, we grieve (Romans 12:15). There is a real pain that was felt, and we too should feel pain. This wasn’t right. This should not have happened. This should anger us.
We are to pray for them (Matthew 6:13). We are to ask to the Lord to strengthen them and us in response to evil (Ephesians 6:10—20). We are mindful that they are still grieving and there is still hurt. We must remind ourselves to lift them up. You can show love by praying for them and caring.
Fourth, God is for you in Christ
Paul pens these words for the believer, “If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31)”. The words remind us that God is really for us because He sent His son Jesus to die for us. Jesus took our sin and the punishment for our sin. Because of Jesus Christ, we can have eternal life. This is the eternal perspective that Romans 8 reminds us that no matter what happens in this life as Paul wrote, “for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18). God is for us knowing that no matter what happens in this life, even death itself, nothing can not separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
We respond by trusting in God, hoping for the eternal work of Christ Jesus, and praying for those who have been affected by evil.