Sadly, this story has become all too common. Another mass shooting - this time in Las Vegas. Another senseless killing, taking the lives of several innocent victims and bringing anger and fear into the hearts of even more.
As I was reflecting upon these recent events, I remembered a post I wrote last year after a similar tragedy in Orlando. Prior to this week, the Orlando shooting was the largest in US history, but the Las Vegas tragedy has now surpassed it - with 58 dead and more than 500 wounded.
The post below was my way of processing what happened and answering the question, "Where do we go from here?" The details may be different, but the message is the same.
By now, everyone is fully aware of the horrific events that took place in Orlando, FL last weekend where a man opened fire at a nightclub, killing 49 people. The attack was “the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11” according to this CNN article.
When things like this happen, I find myself needing to process the event internally and find an answer to “what happened here?” Maybe it’s the introvert within me, but I can’t move past the event until I deal with it and figure out how to file this away in mind.
So below is the result of three days of processing what happened. Three thoughts.
1. I am sad for the victims; I am more sad for the shooter.
Of course it’s always sad when people lose their lives, especially when it happens for absolutely no reason like this. But death is an inevitability for all of us. If it doesn’t happen today, it will tomorrow… or the next day… or the one after that. I know that sounds morbid and somewhat insensitive, but that’s not what I mean.
What I mean is that it’s sad that someone lost their life on Sunday at the club. But would it be less if the same life is lost Monday while driving to work? Or Tuesday after getting diagnosed with cancer? Or Wednesday after getting hit by a bus?
My point is that life will end for all of us; we’ll all die one day. So while it’s certainly sad that these 49 people were killed, the much sadder story is that a human being would reach such a low state of existence (I can’t even call it “living”) that he would seek to do such a thing.
I can’t wrap my mind around it. Why would anyone do such a thing? What could possibly have happened to him that would cause him to be so angry? So blinded? So full of rage?
But then again, what causes anyone to do anything cruel and mean and hate-filled? What causes prejudice and racism? What causes drinking and driving? What causes abuse and rape? What causes lying and cheating and stealing?
That takes me to thought #2.
2. We are no longer shocked by shootings like this and that is both GOOD AND BAD.
It’s bad that we are desensitized towards evil and hatred and acts of terrorism. It’s sad that that’s the world we live in and that our children are growing up in. But in a way, it’s also good that we are no longer surprised. It’s good that we’re not as shocked as we used to be.
How can I say that?
Listen, I’m not saying that it’s good that these things are HAPPENING. God forbid! But what I am saying is that it’s good that we realize the truth of our existence in this world.
And that truth is this: we live in a BROKEN world and we are BROKEN creatures.
When I say “broken” I mean that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This isn’t how life is supposed to work. There’s something wrong – both within us and outside of us in the world we live in – that makes tragedies like this something that unfortunately doesn’t shock us.
I’m not saying that we should lay down and do nothing when evil happens – HECK NO! We might strive to bloodshed fighting against the sin and evil in the world. But what I’m saying is that we’ll never be shaken when the evil happens because we understand the broken nature of humanity and of the world in which we live in.
“The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.” John 16:2-4
Bottom line: the world we live in is a BROKEN WORLD. This is not how God created it. God created the world to function in a certain way and we – through our disobedience and sin – broke the world and in the process broke ourselves as well.
And because we are broken, it shouldn’t surprise us when we see evil like this in the world. And in fact – I hate to be the bearer of bad news – does anyone really expect that this will be the last shooting or tragic event in our lifetimes? Or even the last one in the current year? Sorry, but it’s true.
So now what? What do I do with that lovely piece of information? Thought #3.
3. The only solution for the sickness in us and in the world today is found in Jesus.
The same Jesus who told us that the world is sick and we are sick, also said:
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32
There’s your good news for the day! The world may be sick but God loves the world so much that He sent His only Son into the world to save the world and heal all of the world’s inhabitants of their sickness.
You see, if all you get out these tragic events is “the world stinks” – then you got only half of the message. Yes the world stinks and yes the world is full of evil and yes humanity is broken. But the GOOD NEWS is that Jesus came into the world to FIX IT/US! He is the Physician of our souls, our bodies and our spirits and He has come to free us from being slaves to evil and sin and death.
He has come to give us life (not just existence) and not just any life, but an abundant life! In other words, a HEALED LIFE.
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12
Jesus is the only answer and it’s time for us to realize that a world without Him will always be broken and a life without Him will be just as broken as well.