I can’t stop thinking about Orlando. As tragedies increase in scale and number around the world, I feel like I have to acknowledge it and respond, but I have no idea how. It feels more personal each time because I know that hate can strike anywhere, at any time and toward anyone.
It’s completely overwhelming.
On the other hand, I know there is nothing new under the sun. Evil has always existed and every generation has their challenges. It’s not new, but it is different. And I have no clue what to do about it.
But something changed today. I can no longer pretend it isn’t happening and just go on with my happy life.
So this morning, I opened my bible to Acts. In the middle of the book, Luke writes about the Church in Antioch. The preachers who began the church were dispersed from their home in Jerusalem because of persecution. Stephen was stoned to death, simply because of his faith and so many chose to flee.
But they took the gospel with them.
And the church grew at record breaking speed.
Throughout the Old and New Testament, we see a cycle of persecution and perseverance. We see examples of how division can actually bring about blessing. Matthew Henry Commentary says, “The enemies designed to scatter and lose them, Christ designed to scatter and use them. Thus the wrath of man is made to praise God.”
How true is that?
That’s the same reason why Christianity spreads fastest in the most oppressive places still today.
And it’s relevant to me now, in how I should react. Our responsibility as Christians hasn’t changed one bit over thousands of years. Our response is tried and true and still applicable in the face of senseless mass murder.
We have to persevere.
We have to take the good news with us to all people, all the time, everywhere we go. We have to keep loving because Jesus loves us. All of us.
If we don’t respond with love, who will?
You see, God never wants his people to hurt, but we better believe that when it happens, He will use it for good. It will never be easy. It wasn’t a cake walk for the disciples and it isn’t going to be for us. We should expect to feel exposed and vulnerable, because we are! But we press on because Christ compels us to.
Because, “our hope is not in man achieving some future where we’re all at our best, but that we have a message of salvation for a broken world.” I heard my dad say that last summer and I let it soak in again today.
So I have resolved to respond quickly and boldly and with love that I’m not capable of giving myself. I will do it because the Creator of the universe imagined us and purposed us to carry His love into the dark places of this world. I will trust that He will show up and multiply His mercy and grace to us just like He multiplied the good news across the ancient world – even when the opposition seemed insurmountable.
While I mourn with those who lost loved ones in Orlando, I am reassured that our God is greater and that love has overcome.