My normal morning prayer time was hijacked by the tragic news of mass murder in Kalamazoo. All we know right now is that a person drove from place to place and shot people, seemingly at random. Besides those critically injured, 7 people have died as of this morning. The shootings happened at a housing complex, a car dealership, and a restaurant parking lot. The sites are connected by geographic proximity and what looks like random whim. Right now we’re waking up and sifting through cold facts. We don’t know much about motive, nor do we know much about the victims. Thankfully the threat is gone as police caught their suspect early this morning. Doubtless our community will be processing this for a while. It’s still fresh. It puts us all on high alert. It hurts.
As a pastor, I’m thinking about this from God’s perspective. I’m asking the hard questions, too: why did you allow this? What didn’t we do to prevent this? Should we have prayed more for our city? Are you really okay with this, God? I know He’s not, yet the silence can be unbearable. Nonetheless I keep talking with Him about it.
I remember the time that Lazarus died and Jesus, who they expected to come and heal before he died, ended up at the funeral instead. Jesus sees the pain of family and friends, the effect of sin and death, and the tragedy of loss and… He weeps. Of all the things the creator and sustainer of the world could do in that moment, He enters into our pain and feels it, too. I know that murder breaks the heart of God. How much worse could it be than for a human being, created in His image, to take the life of another human who is also created in His image? Is this not the biggest slap in the face for Him? No wonder we feel tragedy like this so deeply. Miraculously, Jesus joins us there. I believe He did, and I believe He still does today, in this very moment.
I pray for the families and friends of those who were killed. I pray for Kalamazoo. I pray for the shooter who is sitting in police custody right now. I pray for God’s Kingdom redemption to somehow be at work in this situation. For healing. And I pray that fear wouldn’t do what fear always does: paralyze us. I pray that our tendency to hunker down would be kicked to the curb in exchange for our faith and trust in a God who’s bigger than this. I pray for His love and grace to flow. And I look forward to the day when Jesus will return and finally put a stop to all this madness. Until then, we look to Him and see that His eyes are wet from tears, too.