Joseph Stalin had a quote I think about when tragedies happen, “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”

I’m not sure if it takes a million anymore.

It seems every other day there is a terror attack somewhere in the world. We read headlines of bombs on subways, shooters in schools, and buses driving through crowds.

When did it become normal?

Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe it has always been like this and part of getting older is realizing that.

I sure hope that isn’t the case.

I don’t know when I first had a numb response to a tragedy. Probably something overseas. It seems so far away. Almost like a movie or a book. That is happening to those people.

Then I felt it here. Another shooting? Ok. Another family ripped apart? Fine. Just fodder for political debates. But nothing really changes right? We will argue and then our short sighted minds will put it in the rearview and go on to the next tragedy or political discussion. No time to waste.

So forgive me, but it took me a bit by surprise that I felt more than fleeting sympathy after what happened in Las Vegas.

I want to scream.

I want to be political.

I want to blame someone, or some system, or something.

Is this really the reality of everyday life? That we live in a nation where there are mass killings (4 or more shot) almost every day of the year?

Where people trying to enjoy a concert end up in a war zone?

What am I supposed to do as a believer?

Do I say that God wanted this to happen? That He didn’t? That He couldn’t stop it?

Do I say that it is because of our sin that this happened? Because of Free Will? That there will be a good outcome from that?

Will that make me feel better? Will the correct theological response make families feel better when they hear their child is dead?

I don’t know any words that will make people feel better.

And I’m just so sad.

I don’t want this to be reality.

But I don’t want to have another political argument. I don’t want to engage in Facebook conversations that lead no where. I’m not sure if arguing is the way things change.

Maybe, it’s feeling.

In Psalm 34 it says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

I encourage you to let your heart break today. Allow your spirit to feel crushed.

Let yourself empathize with the victims and the victim’s families.

Tomorrow, you can go do something if you want.

 

But please feel today. Maybe if we all take the time to do that, things will change after. Maybe politicians will approach the negotiation table understanding where the other side is coming from. Maybe we won’t hold with white knuckles onto a political party’s line, but rather hear both sides.

Maybe. No guarantees. But even if not. It’s still worth it to feel.

God is close to you.

Amen.

 

 

James Harris

Author James Harris

James is probably the 3rd or 4th funniest guy you know. Funny enough to invite to a party; not witty enough to talk about later. Co-Founder and Content Editor of Everyday Exiles, Director of College Ministry at Reynolda Church, EPC, and husband to Meredith. He has a dog named Calvin, a cat named Opie, and a robot vacuum named Alfred.

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