“I used to believe that prayer changes things. But now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” Mother Teresa
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Psalm 25 1-3
Wednesday afternoon I was horrified to read an all too familiar news feed: mass shooting, death, senseless, hatred driven killings. In San Bernadino California we witnessed catastrophe again. It took little time for the blogosphere to blow up with everyone sharing their thoughts on gun control, terrorism, and their wonder at how God could allow such a thing to occur. One major news outlet even shared a front page article that read, “God Can’t Fix This.” Twitter blew up with the hashtag #thoughtsareprayersarenotenough trending across the USA. And in the middle of it all I sat having just preaching Psalm 25, a psalm of trust that suddenly seemed all to appropriate in this now heated atmosphere.
I am always torn when an even like this occurs, as a pastor and a Christian my heart goes out and I want to reflect empathy, at the deep loss that far too many have to face. But I am also at a loss, because I have heard secular radio host toss around the praise “our thoughts and prayers go out to those,” when these events occur. I share mother Theresa’s quote because I believe in it may lie a better response. Yes, let’s pray for those impacted by terrible events, trusting that no human words can heal the hurt, only God can. And, and is a key word, let’s start working to be part of changing the very world we live in. This is not a call to rally for gun rights or getting rid of guns, but to rally as Christians who care for the communities we live in, and the people God has placed around us. We rally because of words like Psalm 25. God I trust in you, but please don’t let me down. Faith is not about rosey-eyed optimism, but instead gritty focus on the promises of that are and will continue to be greater than the circumstances we find ourselves in.
Our call as Christ’s followers in moments like this comes from Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
So on a day filled with news of darkness, pain and hurt, may your life be a light to your home, your neighborhood, your work place, as one whose trust is not in this world, but in a God who promised to be faithful to his promise to the end of world. May we not be paralyzed by the hurt, fear and terror of these events, but convicted the Holy Spirit to be catalysts of Hope and Shalom.