As I am writing this, we are sitting in the aftermath of another mass shooting and murder here in America. Nine people were killed in brutal fashion yesterday in Charleston, S.C., in their church of all places, conducting a peaceful and loving bible study. They were the victims of a hate crime, and an act of terrorism. Pure and simple. The fact they were killed in their church, during a prayerful bible study makes them the latest in an ever growing list of martyrs in what is supposed to be a more civilized age.
This is just the latest in a long line of mass murders here in the States that is becoming all too common. People may watch the news and see ISIS beheading people on the other side of the world, or famines and genocide in Africa, and think, “How horrible… But at least it’s not happening here.” Well, let me tell you something, evil is everywhere, and it has a firm hold on the U.S. It has a tight grasp on Europe, and Asia, and Africa, Latin America, and all around the Pacific. And it’s almost like we’re becoming immune to it.
For a lot of us, we hear of a shooting or a beheading and we think, “well, there’s another one…”, and then we go about our lives. The videos are all over the news and internet, and it’s like we can’t escape it. So then we try to turn a blind eye to the violence and act like it does not exist, but it’s all around us. It’s like a storm that just won’t end. The winds keep swirling and blowing, the rain pelts us in the face, the lightning blinds our eyes and our minds are filled with the loudest cracks of thunder imaginable. We’re trapped in a world-wide hurricane (or typhoon depending on what side of the world you’re on), and it’s building in strength. How do we survive it? How do build our shelter to withstand it? And as a father on this Father’s Day here in the United States – how do I protect my son, and all of our children from the storm? How do we stop the chaos and the confusion, the hate and the anger, and the violence and brutality? Do we even have a chance?
What perfect timing for these readings today, because they are all about being calm in the face of the storms of life. In the first reading today from Job, Job is frustrated with his situation and is acting like a cocky teenager, challenging God. And then God, the loving Father, effectively puts Job in his place and gives him a greater perspective on life and the world, and Job’s place in it. Job’s storm starts to seem a little smaller and he gains a new understanding. Job finds that in the Lord, “here shall your proud waves be stilled!”
We need a new perspective. Sure, there is evil. But God will twist, and massage, and mold and sculpt the most evil thing that can happen and bring something good and amazing from it, and like Paul writes today to the Corinthians,
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.
From these evil things that happen, if we look to Christ, something new and good and fresh can be born of it. I know it may not seem like it in the midst of these evils, but we simply have to be open to God’s work and let the Holy Spirit show it to us. In this latest shooting, there were countless lives affected, not the least of which are the nine victims and the shooter – yes, the shooter. We must not forget that he is a person too; who must have been going through unimaginable agony and suffering and despair in order to do something like this. He is a part of this story as well, and most of us want revenge, want him to pay for what he did. But one of the most special things I’ve heard is how some of the family members of the victims are preaching forgiveness and love towards the shooter – the very day after this happened. We should all learn this lesson, and seek to love and forgive, even in the midst of tragedy, as was being displayed by the victim’s family. I know that does not replace a mother or a father or a child. But this simple act has since reached millions and has really made people think about how we should respond to things like this.
This is a tragedy and people are hurting, and they probably feel that they cannot go on. I know I would. But through their faith, they are giving control to God and doing the only thing they can do right now – forgive. Maybe someday they’ll have a greater understanding like Job received. Maybe someday, they will be able to see some good that came from this. Maybe we all will. But for the time being, in tragedies such as this that affect millions of us around the globe, we simply must turn to our faith in Christ to guide us.
These storms are all around us. How can we be so calm, and loving and forgiving in the face of such storms? How can we continue on in the face of danger, and hate, anger and vengeance? We look to Christ to settle us down. We look to Christ to do just what He did for those disciples in that boat so many years ago, where he simply quieted the storm. He can do this for us in the storms we face today. We simply need to have faith in Him that He will indeed, help us through.
Many times in life, we’re going to see or be impacted by things that are going to turn our world upside down. We’re going to hear and read about events like that in Charleston that makes us fear and despair about this world we live in. We’re going to be the target of bad things. If we have a relationship with Christ, we can at least whether the storm. If we have a relationship with Christ, there will be times where He uses us to calm the storms of others, and change the perspective of others who may be going through rough times, and questioning and challenging all that is good in this world, like Job. At those times, God will work through us to put the situation in a different perspective and teach lessons about love and forgiveness, and rather than rage and rock the boat – calm things down. We each need to be that calming influence.
This world can be an awful place at times. But if we look around at nature, and what God has created, the things He told Job about, we will look at this world with calm and wonder. Can we change the world and those that live in it? Can we all cooperate and love and forgive and set aside the anger? Can we calm those storms that rage all around us? It starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us. We need to look to Christ, and realize who He is and what He can do, that He can truly calm those storms for us. We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can make those whom we encounter better people and help get them to Heaven. But we need to be open to Jesus and let Him work through us to be a good and calming influence on others. It’s how we weather the storms in life, and the only chance we have at changing the global climate.