The school is only 30 miles from my home. Surely such a terrible act could not happen so close to my home. This is Western Kentucky. This is rural America. We have lots of churches and strong religious values. Yet, it happened here on Tuesday, January 23rd. A school shooting that took the lives of two young people and seriously injured others happened here! As I went home to my own children last evening, my heart went to the parents of the injured and deceased. How heartbreaking and gut-punched they must feel. They sent their kids to school and now everything has changed!
Our first question is “Why?”, we want to know the motive and try to understand who the hurting individual was who caused such an event. We hurt for him and his family too. Let me encourage you to realize in the immediate, this is a time for several things more important and more significant to the hurting of our community than the “Why?”.
This is a time for . . .
- Weeping. God created within us emotions and feelings. We don’t need to shove these down. He gave us tears to express our heart’s aches and sorrows. We are commanded to “weep with those who weep.”¹ Sometimes there is nothing to really do but cry with and for others. “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”¹ This is a time to weep. Let the kids cry! Let the parents cry! Let our whole area cry!
- Fear and Insecurity. To try to say there is not fear and insecurity in the heart of parents and students would be a lie. We shouldn’t cover up the truth. This event only adds credence to the already existing fears and insecurities we face. Anytime death comes near to us stripping us of those most precious to us it shakes us to our core. We must recognize and express our fears so they don’t cause us to act inappropriate. We are reminded of what Paul said, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”¹ We rise above fear, but don’t act like it isn’t there!
- Anger. When Jesus looked at the desecration of the temple he got angry. When he looked at the self-righteous Pharisees who did not want a man with a withered hand healed, he got angry. When we see the pain, agony, and suffering caused by such a senseless act of evil, we experience righteous anger. Anger must be controlled, but we must recognize this is a time when our hearts feel anger, and it is okay!
- Prayer. As common to other tragedies, the social media trends have been about praying for Marshall County. This is a powerful thing! It is what we can and should do. Prayer helps, heals, and calms. It brings the power of heaven upon our situation and allows us to lay our hurting hearts upon a comforting God. Pray!
- Faith. At times like these we truly realize our need for God. We need His peace, comfort, and love. We pray the same prayer the disciples prayed, “Lord increase our faith.”¹ In the face of evil, we need faith.
- Hope. We need hope for a better tomorrow. We need hope that this world is not the end. We need hope in humanity. Hope inspires. It unites. It strengthens and causes us to persevere. With hope we can endure whatever Satan throws at us. It is the “anchor of our soul both sure and steadfast.”¹
- Love. Certainly this is a time for love. A time to cherish each of our children. A time to love our neighbors and friends. A time to love our enemies. A recognition that we need to love more everyday those who are hurting. Darkness cannot win if love brings light! Let us love one another.
Ballgames, math homework, or academic competitions can wait, now it is a time for these things. The answers we may want in the “why?” may never come. You don’t make sense out of senselessness. You don’t rationally explain pure evil and hate-filled acts. At least the answers we get will never satisfy our hearts. But if we give time to these items and process our own emotions, we may come to the point of not having to know it all, because we have faith, hope and love.
¹ Romans 12:15; Matthew 5:4; 2 Tim. 1:7; Luke 17:5; Heb. 6:19