The recent school shooting in Florida captured our nation’s attention. We learned in horror of lives lost far too soon. Families still mourn and struggle to comprehend what they have lost. Many have responded for increased gun control because of the weapon used in the Florida shooting. Many others responded to the shooting by denying the need or increased control. At least some marveled that those who called for gun control included supporters of abortion. Their reasoning: Why would a supporter of the shedding of innocent blood (abortion) want gun control? To be fair, not all people calling for increased gun control support legal abortion. In addition, what happened at the Florida school itself was shedding of innocent blood. What happened at the Florida school was horribly wrong. If we can decrease the likelihood that such shootings will happen again, we must. The path to safety may be more complex than some would like it to be.
As I contemplate the shootings, I don’t want to imagine the pain survivors, witnesses, and responders feel. I have suffered unexpected loss of a family member whom I loved dearly. It’s not something you want anyone else to experience. I also attended a public high school and taught at public high schools. As I consider the grief that survivors in Florida are expressing, the prayer of Psalm 70 strikes me as containing emotions they may feel and shock some of them may experience as people question their real involvement in the event:
“Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! Let them turn back because of their shame who say, ‘Aha, Aha!’ May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’ But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!” (Psalm 70 ESV)
May God bring peace to broken hearts. May he cause those who speak words that harm the victims to stop and think, to determine what is true, before they compound the suffering of innocent victims.
Justice has gone awry, O Lord, when violence shatters lives, when someone sheds innocent blood, and people attack the victims’ credibility. Bring healing to the bodies of those who have survived shootings in schools and churches, Lord. Restore hope in the minds of children whose sense of security was mangled when a young man opened fire where they studied. Restore hope in the minds of those children who cannot understand why people question their identity and whether they were where they were on the worst day of their lives. Comfort parents, teachers, and responders who wonder how they could have saved more lives. Bring back to us a desire to seek truth and to pursue it. Give us wisdom, grant us patience with one another, but stir within us a hunger to build communities of compassion and awareness where we can help people overcome their pain that makes them want to hurt others. Illuminate the path of peace, that we may find it and walk together on it. In Jesus’ name, amen.