While we were sleeping last night, 26 brothers and sisters in Christ were shot dead as they attended church in Texas. At least 20 more were wounded.
Their service had just begun at around 11am, when a young armed white male crossed the street to the church and opened fire. Then he walked through the doors and kept shooting, according to reports.
26 dead, 20 wounded.
Tasked to write this article, I just didn’t know what to say. All I could do as I drove to work was to pray: Oh, God. Help me care. Give me something life-giving to say.
And as I waited at a red light, it dawned on me that the truth was that the event seemed so distant that I wasn’t sure it meant anything to me. Over my morning coffee, God convicted me that the real reason for the great, quiet apathy hanging over me was a heated discussion I had years ago with an American man about the firearms issue.
I recall that the conversation ended with me saying I’d pray for his family’s safety. On his part, he told me that a foreigner could never understand the American argument for guns. He’s right about one thing – I still don’t understand that need for guns.
Regardless of whether we think our logic or manner of governance is superior, it doesn’t give us a free pass not to care.
But I developed an unhealthy conviction from that exchange: That those who insist on keeping their guns just don’t get it – it’s a cultural thing. Nothing is going to change, this is going to keep happening.
Over the years, the various shootings that followed sporadically in the years to come – as they invariably do in the USA – were all just a logical consequence to me. Told you so.
But the news this morning shook me up. What could be logical about 26 people dying and 20 others getting shot at – massacred – while worshipping their God? Our God?
Regardless of whether we think our logic or manner of governance is superior, it doesn’t give us a free pass not to care. We are commanded to care (Mark 12:31). There’s a very fine line between a lack of empathy and callousness.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
So this is me caring again. I think of how I celebrated my Church’s 31st anniversary over the weekend, and thank God that every family got to go home intact. I look at my adorable 5-year-old nephew, and earnestly thank God he doesn’t face the risk of being fatally shot 4 times by an automatic rifle.
I get to the office, and around the water-cooler I say something about this tragedy that isn’t “America, what. What do you expect?”
In great darkness, I’m looking to a time where there will be no more night.
Instead I tell everyone what I’m truly expecting: When the dwelling place of God converges with that of man’s, it will be a time when He “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, [nor] mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4-8).
In great darkness, I’m looking to a time where there will be no more night (Revelations 22:5). In the ruins of this broken world I can only look to GOD, who puts an end to strife (Ezekiel 28:24) and death itself (Isaiah 25:8).
Today may be a day of grief and mourning on this earth. A day for national self-reflection in America. A day for soul-searching in Churches elsewhere, including in Singapore.
But I believe that in Heaven, there’s a different vibe. For today, 26 new friends were welcomed into a wondrous new home (John 14:2-4) – as martyrs, killed for their worship of God Most High. The highest honour of all.