A Time For Prayer

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And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:1-10

Tallahassee, FL, Hot Yoga Studio. Three lives lost.

Sandy Hook Elementary School where over 27 children and teachers died.

Tree of Life Synagogue, 11 people dead. 

Parkland High School, 17 students and staff members 

Las Vegas, 58 innocent lives taken

Pulse Night Club, 49 dead.

Burlington, Washington, 5 dead. Sutherland Springs, Texas where 26 members of a Baptist church were killed one tragic Sunday morning. Santa Fe, Texas, Roseburg, Oregon, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. There are many others too. Hundreds in fact.

Over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, we are once again left to mourn the loss of innocent lives. Over thirty people are dead, with many more wounded, and just like the events of the past, there are no answers for our questions. Heartbroken I read the stories of a mother who lost her life sheltering her two-year-old from harm. Arturo Benavides, 60, was grocery shopping on Saturday at the Walmart with his wife. He was paying at the register when the shooting happened. Mr. Benavides was an Army veteran and a bus driver for Sun Metro, El Paso. 

In Ohio, the victims were Monica Brickhouse, Nicholas Cumer, Derrick Fudge, Lois Oglesby, Logan Turner, Beatrice Warren-Curtis, Thomas McNichols and Saeed Saleh.

These were mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. All fellow image bearers.

At some point this week, you may find yourself with the opportunity to engage in heated debates over the cause of these tragic attacks. It will be tempting to defend a political party or a closely held right. Most certainly emotions will run high, blame will be assigned, lines will be drawn, and mourning will turn to anger. 

As those who carry the name Christian, we must pause in these moments. We should not shrink back, but provide wisdom amid the shouting. Certainly, there will be a time for action, but today I’m reminded of what the Apostle Peter urged those who he called “sojourners and exiles”.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:9-12

As the body of Christ awaiting our King to return, we are sojourners and exiles living in a home that is not our home, and as such, we are called to be at all times sober-minded and full of grace. (1:13) Paul even warns Timothy not to engage in senseless debates and arguments because it could potentially damage the hearer. (2 Timothy 2). Our motivations should be different. Each conversation with a family member, co-worker, or some random person on the internet is a chance to share wisdom and grace. This is how you act when you are living in a foreign land. Your language is not their language so your approach should mirror the Kingdom of God, not the culture of this world. 

As Christ’s example to the world, we should take time to pray. We should also search the depths of our heart and repent if we have been complicit in the continuance of racism or the dehumanizing of any people group. We should pray for the victims and their families, pray for our cities, our neighborhoods, and our churches. We should pray for wisdom on when to speak, and grace for what to say. Let us mourn for those who cannot mourn, become peacemakers in a time of strife, and hunger and thirst for righteousness in a wicked world. 

Don’t use this time to add confusion and personal opinions to a lost world, use this time to pray.

-Lyell Walker