The story of the Uvalde school shooting is one we had hoped we would never hear again. Yet, this week 19 children and 2 adults were killed in the tragedy. The image in my head is a 10 year old named Xavier who held up his honor roll certificate for a photo just hours before he was killed. A beautiful life cut short and the reasons for his death will never make sense. In the aftermath politicians will debate gun control, violence in the media and mental health. After all of the bitter words, nothing will get done if history is any indication. But what would God have us to do in this moment? What is an appropriate response?
Take a break from the anger and allow yourself to cry with those who are crying today. Just like Jesus grieved with the family of his friend, Lazarus. Let us grieve with those who are hurting. We are a people of prayer. We believe prayer works and makes a difference. Prayer that comes from a place of truth is the prayer God desires. Out of those tears, pray that the “God of all comfort” will wrap his arms around this small town of 15,000 that is heartbroken today.
Pray for the law enforcement and first responders who will be processing the trauma of entering that classroom for years to come. Pray for the local officials that will try to help lead their town through the process of grief and healing.
But, if your heart is really broken I want to suggest that you do something more. Find a way to connect with the teenagers around you. It’s not as impossible as it sounds. Our youth are hurting. Depression and loneliness is rampant. We are already hearing that the Uvalde shooter was bullied at school and had few friends. I’m not suggesting that access to firearms is not a huge problem. It is. It’s an issue that defies logic. But its not the only issue.
One meaningful connection can forever change the trajectory of a person’s life. Every youth organization in our city will tell you that they can never recruit enough mentors to meet the needs. There is a teenager that needs you. Maybe that teenager is in the lobby of our church, in Young Lives, in your neighborhood or in the local boys and girls club.
What if this tragedy inspired you to make a difference by engaging with a young person. That is perhaps one of the best things you could do to honor Xavier and the memory of the children lost this week. May God mend this terrible brokenness in our world. – Pastor Dan