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Photo of many lit candles.

Photo by Canva

It is interesting that there are tragedies that capture us at different times. For some reason, the one at Nashville last week has captured my attention and stuck with me more than usual. Part of it is the closeness of the tragedy to us. Also, the church is in our smallish denomination. There are other connections too. Rather than think about reasons I “should” have long term concerns for other tragedies or feel guilty because of why I feel for this one, I need to use my concerns and sadness over this one and a couple of others last year, to have more beneficial long term help in the future.

The constant derision of people of faith that is seen in the press and often from our elected officials is coming home to roost in a very negative way.

Now, as people are trying to find a reason for their existence, value in their lives, hope for their futures, they haven’t heard much about God or faith except in derision. Young people are looking to find value and often feel that repeating to themselves that they have value is simply repeating a lie over and over again. They have no idea that God loves them and values them so much that He died to pay for their sin so they could be totally forgiven. They have no idea that God’s statement over them in terms of their value is that their value is “a little lower than the angels”. They were created to have dominion over the earth and to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And in more recent years, there has now been the question of whether each individual is even the right sex? So they are trying to make themselves into the opposite sex that God made them. Imagine the effect of testosterone on a woman’s body if she is trying to change to a man? One woman described it as making her go crazy on almost every level. But I digress.

I know this isn’t popular to say at times like this, but we need to turn back to God as a society. No, it won’t solve everything. But this derision of those who believe in God has got to stop! Treating people of faith like they are stupid and ignorant is horrible. People who know to pray in times of need are wise, not stupid. They know that things have gotten out of control. They know where the help needs to come from. All the other solutions I will mention are secondary to this one. We can try to fix guns, mental health and Hollywood, but that will be like working on make-up. It won’t help the internal problems at all. It will be like putting lipstick on a pig. If the internal problems of faith are not cared for, we will find ourselves bereft and bankrupt. I’ll mention the other issues because they will help a bit. It’s just that they are window dressing. They do not get to the heart of the problem.

As with all these things, it will start with God’s people. We have to get serious about who we are and what we believe. Are we going to follow Christ? If so, let’s do it for real and be sure those around us know that we belong to God and what that means in the everyday in positive ways. It has nothing to do with any political party. It has to do with Him and what He did on the cross and then after when He rose from the dead!

 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves,
and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

II Chronicles 7:14 ESV

We must be prepared for change. it often comes suddenly and unexpectedly. We can’t allow it to take us by surprise. God is with us. He is always with us, even when things change.

Gun control for automatic weapons

But what can I do to help in the future in terms of prevention? This topic always comes up. Always. The first idea to come up is the most obvious. Gun control.

On its face, that is a good idea, except that in many of these killings, not this one, the guns were obtained by killing other people to get them, or stealing the guns. But honestly, I can’t think of why AR47’s need to be owned by regular people, Why is it so difficult to put limits on this type of gun? Why is that a problem? Do we distrust our government that much that we feel we need to keep that kind of gun on hand to protect ourselves from our government? It seems to me that we need to limit the availability of that kind of gun to the average person. That isn’t asking too much. It would slow down the maniacal killers at schools.

More psychiatric help for those in need of it and better communication so guns aren’t sold to those with mental health problems.

More help in health plans for mental health issues as well as more in house mental health assistance instead of less. Many states are closing down in house mental health plans at a time when mental health issues are needed, not less. They are trying to save money but are not saving it in the right places. So in some states, there are more and more people living on the streets and more and more people struggling…getting into drugs, committing suicide, etc. I’m not saying psychiatric help is what all of them need, but it will help some of them. I also realize many of these problems are complex and need more than one solution attached.

The movies coming out of Hollywood as well as the violent games being produced. Is no one even considering the influence these have on these crimes?

I watch commercials for movies coming out and see some of the games that are played. I know I don’t know the half of what is out there. But in order for the games to be fun, the violence has to escalate. It gets more and more extreme. You kill and kill. The results are never felt. You stop playing and your life goes back to normal. But it has to have an effect on you. The value of a person is less and less. It is simply a dot on a screen, It means nothing. Who cares if you shoot a real person? It means nothing. Only it does mean something. And in the end, if you are the shooter, you often end up dead! Violence begets violence.

So often, the discussions focus only on guns. Some of that is appropriate for sure. But I never hear anyone talking about this part of it. Visual violence has to be a high influencer for many of these people who are acting out. I have no doubt.

How can we move forward with the best solutions? May God help us be wise.

As we look to the future, let us pray for wisdom to know what changes to make in our personal lives as well as our communities so we can be safe and wise stewards of the people we must care for. Can we be quick to listen to each other and slow to speak, realizing none of us has a complete line on the truth when it comes to solutions to many of these issues.