I have been slow to respond to the recent school shooting that took place in Uvalde, Texas this week. Frankly, my heart is broken over the senseless murder of innocent children and I feel like there are smarter people than me who have been responding to this horrific act of terror. I wasn’t sure there was a need to throw my voice into the mix. But, even as I have written that phrase “recent school shooting” I’m struck to my core about the brokenness of this world and the brokenness of my nation.
Preceding this shooting of helpless children, our nation witnessed a White Supremacist gun down people in a Buffalo, New York grocery store, simply because they had a darker shade of skin.
Friends from other nations have been messaging me, “Why can’t your nation fix this?”
I have been asking myself, “Where’s the hope, David?” It is a reasonable question after all, since I host a podcast named “Get Up and Hope.” So, where am I to find that hope in our current state of affairs?
Allow me to back up a bit and give some personal context before I continue.
I have three children. One is an adult who is out of school, but my younger two just finished sixth grade and second grade. Many of my closest friends in the world, and several of my fellow musicians with whom I play, are school teachers. Even though the odds of a school shooting directed at my family and friends are relatively low, I still sat on the edge of my seat during the last twenty-four hours of the school year that followed this event, until my children were home.
I have been awake nearly all night, every night, watching news coverage of the mourning communities and families who have lost a loved one. I am not numb to this; it has hit me hard.
Since I am also involved in a wide variety of political work, I have friends from across the spectrum contacting me with their views, opinions, solutions… and with a justifiable anger asking, “How could this have happened again?” We have poured over world stats, gun laws, the second amendment, SCOTUS opinions, legal precedent, and so many other forms of information in an effort to make sense of why these senseless murders seem to plague our nation.
So, again… Where is the hope, David?
“Don’t send your thoughts and prayers, they are useless” is a sentiment I have seen expressed many times on social media over the last few days. My Christian faith agrees with this, in fact, the Bible says that faith without works is completely meaningless. (James 2:14-17)
I think I would push back against those who say thoughts and prayers are meaningless and say that we have not been truly thinking and praying. We have only been expressing a Hallmark card style sentiment of thinking and praying. When we truly spend time in prayer over the thoughts of brokenness we see around us, then we will be inspired to action. It is not that thoughts and prayers are useless, it is that we don’t really put the effort into praying and caring enough about what impacts our world and impacts those around us. We are simply too self-absorbed to truly focus for that long.
What gives me hope is that the anger, the sadness, and the response I am seeing from so many friends around the world tells me that we recognize our society is broken, and it doesn’t match up with what we know in our entire being to be “right.”
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” -C.S. Lewis
The hope is that this desire for something greater, a knowledge that there must be something more perfect than what we are seeing, is the very evidence that the Spirit of God is at work in the people of this world and of our nation. People of faith MUST respond to the brokenness by taking action. Are we called to fight for our rights at the expense of others, or are we are called to redeem the dark places of this world?
A friend whom I deeply respect, Alan Cohn, exposed me to the Jewish teaching of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world. He explained that our work on earth is to take action that results in impacting our world in a way that aligns with the intentions of a loving creator God.
One of the pastors at my church, Gary Rideout, explored the command Jesus gave to be peacemakers. He explained that being a peacemaker does not mean that we just appease in order to make peace. Sometimes, the process of making peace requires contention and controversy. It does not mean we just act peaceful. It means we struggle for peace. We work to make it happen.
People of faith, the hope that I am finding in all of this is that our society is standing up and saying “This isn’t right!” To me, that exclamation is the Spirit of God that is within us screaming out for redemption of the earth.
Let’s act on it.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead… For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” (James 2:14-17, 26)