Tragedy, Hope, and Yesterday’s Shooting

 By Nathan Busenitz- Posted at The Master's Seminary:

Yesterday, we were all shocked by the tragic news about the deadly shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. According to recent reports, the gunman fatally shot nine victims and wounded seven others before he was also killed. Today, investigators are still piecing together a motive for the shooting, as legislators begin to debate whether or not certain laws should be enacted to help prevent such violence in the future.

As the American public wrestles with how to process what happened, it is important for believers to think biblically about these tragic events. With that in mind, how can we as Christians respond in a way that demonstrates the compassion of our Lord while also exemplifying the hope we have in Him?

Here are five thoughts in answer to that question:

1. As believers, our hearts should break for those whose lives have been devastated by these violent actions.

The earthly ministry of Jesus was characterized by compassion for people. That tenderhearted care not only related to their spiritual needs (cf. Matt. 9:36; Luke 19:41–42) but also to their physical suffering and emotional grief (cf. Matt. 14:14; 15:32; 20:34). For example, when Jesus witnessed the pain experienced by a widow whose son had recently died, He responded with words of compassion and comfort (Luke 7:12–13). At the grave of Lazarus, the Lord’s tears caused the surrounding crowds to remark, “See how He loved him!” (John 11:35–36).

The followers of Jesus are likewise instructed to respond with compassion toward those who are hurting. Christians are to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15); to be “kindhearted” (1 Pet. 3:8); and to speak graciously toward others, including those outside of the church (Col. 4:4–5). We are to be characterized by the love of Christ (John 13:35) and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23), indicating that kindness and sympathy ought to mark our response to tragedies like this.

As believers, we should extend not only our hearts but also our prayers, interceding for the families and friends of the victims and also praying that the civil authorities would have wisdom in the aftermath of this situation. Our prayers should be God-glorifying and gospel-focused, asking the Lord to do His saving work in the midst of the heartache and confusion. First Timothy 2:1–6 provides us with a helpful example in this regard. Notice the gospel-focused nature of Paul’s instruction in that passage:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

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