We are just not in a good place as a country right now. I think everyone is a little on edge, due to recent events. Although it’s been that way for a while.
Let’s review. In the past couple months alone – devastating hurricanes, horrific tragedies, hate marches, human on human crime. There are people now who are without homes, without family members, without basic necessities.
Five days ago, a man opened fire on an audience at a concert, killing 58 people and wounding 500. Evidence shows premeditation and planning. It is the new largest mass shooting in US history.
To be vulnerable, my first response to this news was not one of compassion. I checked to make sure my dad’s brother, who lives in Las Vegas, was okay. I said a quick prayer. But I just couldn’t connect. I didn’t feel any emotion about it.
I remember the next day watching Jimmy Kimmel give a passionate speech about what it would mean to do all we can in the face of this tragedy. His tearful face, while recounting the events. Those things truly hit me hard.
The fact that it’s far away, that these events don’t directly affect me, that so many things are happening lately, and they’re just hard to deal with – all of these things keep me from making my heart soft towards my fellow human beings going through tragedy. They keep me from caring and crying, from stepping into action.
We can think God’s reaction is the same – distant and removed. But God’s heart is not like that. God hurts when people hurt. He has an incredible heart of compassion for us. And I believe he is stepping in and engaging, working in amazing ways in this time.
Think of all the people who are praying for the Las Vegas victims and their families! Take a look at all the people who are volunteering, donating, and giving. God is working, even when the times are dark; he is moving people’s hearts.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed…The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” – Psalm 103:6,8 (NIV)
Luke 10:25-37 – The Parable of the Good Samaritan – it’s a lengthy passage, so I won’t copy it here. But it tells of a man helping his neighbor. More than that, it tells of the last man you would expect helping his neighbor. Jews did not associate with Samaritans at that time, due to cultural and religious divides. And yet the Samaritan in this story is the one who not only stops and helps, but goes above and beyond. The compassion in this story is stirring to me. Also, on a greater scale, doesn’t this represent what God does for us? He takes action in caring for us beyond what we deserve.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” – 1 John 4:7-9 (NIV)
After hearing Jimmy Kimmel’s words, I clicked on an article someone posted on Facebook I might otherwise have skipped. It was an article detailing some of the stories of those killed in the Las Vegas attack. I opened myself up to feeling a tiny bit of the heart ache that these people’s family and friends are going through, just by getting to know them even a little.
I’m writing this post to myself. These tragedies are becoming so commonplace, and it’s easy to let them slip by. But I need to know the stories and the people, and to feel for them. I need to pray, to offer what I can, to rejoice in the generous responses of so many. And I need to see how God is working through it, otherwise I will give up hope that there is more to life than this. And I’ll lose the compassion that keeps me connected to other humans.
What helps you connect and engage in times like this?
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