Heavy-Hearted Memorial Day

May 31, 2022

Memorial Day is a day to honor our loved ones who have died, particularly those who have served our nation. But this Memorial Day honor is accompanied, maybe even over shadowed, by dark grief. In just the couple of weeks past, three mass shootings have happened yet again, the last one taking the lives of two teachers and nineteen third and fourth graders. If you aren’t horrified and heart-broken, I doubt you are fully human. Since Columbine in April 1999, mass shootings have become sadly familiar. The list of massacres is staggering.

What can humans do about this? In the final resolution, we must trust God because the sin in our collective hearts is so big. The debate will rage on about gun control, blame for who is at fault, and many other issues will find their way into the chaotic conversation. As Christ followers, what is our responsibility?

While it sounds trite and ineffective, the first and most significant thing we can do is pray. Pray for the families of the victims, the shooters, the law-enforcement officers, the first responders. But more than just the immediate situation, pray for the evil that stalks our hearts and land. Pray for repentance and revival, and wisdom to heal our brokenness. Pray for the underlying dysfunction and sin in our society that allows us to treat people in such a fashion that they become walking grenades of anger.

Talk about it. Don’t argue or debate about it. Don’t get into clashes about gun control, etc. This situation will ignite discussions that are much-needed about gun laws, public safety, mental health issues, and how to better protect our people. Do support what you believe is right in an official way, but our personal conversations need to be about things that are not just our personal or political opinion—they need to be about the things God says are true.

  • Sin and evil are real. Why would someone want to kill innocent people? Talk about it. The root answer is sin. There is a real-life battle between good and evil, and it is bigger than all of our arguments.
  • Murder is always a selfish and hateful rejection of God and His creation. To respond with hatred is to respond in an unhelpful way that Jesus rejected. He said that to hate another person is to murder them in our hearts. The only way to effectively respond to evil in our world in a way that matters is to be even more determined to live a life of Christlike, sacrificial love. Reach out to those who are hurting, angry, confused, or lost. Offer a listening ear and be encouraging by helping them feel heard and valued.
  • Remember that God is a just God. Because we are humans with free choice, evil is not new, but God sees and will bring everything and everyone into account. Until then, we can know that He will be with us, and His comfort and peace can help us find hope even in the worst of tragedies.
  • Share hope in the midst of real emotions. God created every emotion, and they don’t need to be avoided and certainly not shamed. In the midst of these emotions we have a faithful God. We can find hope beyond ourselves. God has always sustained and carried His people through all kinds of horrific tragedies. He is the God of the resurrection.

Trust God when things don’t make sense. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us there will always be things we don’t understand, and we need to rely on wisdom greater than our own.

Don’t allow yourself to grow numb. The willingness of the Church to witness the cycle of violence and grief with silence is not in line with our calling to be salt and light in the world. Support organizations that help the victimized families, work with mental-health awareness and assistance, support the best family and youth opportunities for your community with your church resources. Take the church’s responsibility to shine as a light seriously.

Texas pastor Kevin Cornelius said, “The church still works. We don’t have a plan, but we have a community. We don’t have answers, but we have grace and peace. We don’t understand, but we are present. Our hearts are breaking, but we have hope and we are giving it away as quickly as we can.”

Let’s do it. Let’s be the Church.