Orlando: Finding Peace in Tragedy
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It is hard to be at peace watching the news these days, especially after seeing the coverage of the Orlando Shooting that just killed 50 innocent people and injured 53 more. As the world seems to be spinning out of control with mayhem, hatred, evil, and increased violence, we may need to have a paradigm shift from fear to faith--consciously, actively working for peace-in our own lives, our communities, and our nation. Despite what we have seen and heard, God is in control, and He loves us all profoundly. Perhaps it's time to turn our attention away from evil to God, the Creator of the Universe.
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span style="font-size:12.0pt;line-height:107%;font-family: " times="" new="" roman",serif"="">The hardest and most difficult truth about the Orlando Shooting is that it could have happened anywhere in the US and the global community, as terrorism defies authority and borders and is fueled by unbridled extreme hatred. So many questions press forward in the aftermath of this heinous crime, the worst shooting in American history, and there are no easy answers. This tragedy surely evokes and provokes anger and fear in all of us. How did this happen in this age with so much American and global vigilance towards terrorism? Could this happen in my own community? It makes us wonder, is there no place that one can go to escape and avoid the throes of hatred and terrorism in these days of radical extremist hatred and ISIS?
"I have told you this so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." John 16:33
We need to look into our own hearts and minds and pray fervently for an outpouring of love and peace in our own personal lives, for they can only come from trusting in Jesus, our Almighty Savior, Protector, and Comforter. In as much as Jesus is Lord and we are not, it is important to leave room for Him to move as He will and only He can in our daily lives and to handle the evil we encounter. What occurred was not a case of mental illness, but of evil gone awry.
Our knee jerk reaction may easily be one of a surge of negative emotions, pressing questions, fear and even hatred for the shooter. Most unsettling, perhaps there may seem to be nowhere to hide from such extreme acts of hatred and terrorism, but there is. For believers and non-believers alike, it is an illusion to think we are in this world all alone. For God is with us, and in earnest prayer, we need to place this nation, this world squarely in the hands of God! Consider this profound biblical promise: "He [God] will shelter you with his pinions, and under His wings you may take refuge; his faithfulness is a protecting shield." Psalm 91:4
It is not our place to judge, but it is our job to love others to the best of our abilities. But consider this: Faith and fear cannot coexist, and the peace of Jesus Christ transcends all evil. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." John 14:27
Worry and fear will not quell and eradicate hatred and evil, but quiet personal and collective prayer to God, in the name of Jesus Christ, can eliminate them both in the blink of an eye, giving us an unshakable peace. Prayer can also help us more easily identify prejudice, hatred and evil for what they are in ourselves and others, and assist us swiftly to higher ground-to love one another as God's children. In striving for peace, the Bible tells us we need to pray not only for ourselves, but also, even for our enemies, those we fear, and those who have hurt us. Our peace really is found in Jesus through prayer and reading Holy Scripture:
When you are able to boldly pray for your enemies and those who have hurt you this way, internal and external peace--even joy in adversity-- is the end result. When you believe that you are not alone in this world, with Jesus at your side, you are free to love the unlovable--able to concurrently hate the sin, AND love the sinner as Jesus does, with uncommon compassion, paving the way to peace.
As we join together to pray for the families and loved ones of those who have been injured or died in this unprecedented tragic shooting, let us be mindful of Jesus mandate to His followers: Love one another as I have loved you.
Let us pray:
Dear Father God, In the name of Jesus, as we grieve the 50 lives lost in the Orlando Massacre, we ask for your healing touch upon the global community and especially the United States of America. Help us to purge ourselves of all prejudice and hate that keeps us from loving others as we should according to Your Divine Will. We love you, and trust in you to heal us, guide us, protect and comfort us...In the name of Jesus we ask for your healing grace upon this world...Save us from all harm, give us peace in our days, and bind up and cast out any and all evil that surrounds Your flock. We ask all this in Jesus' Mighty name.
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