The reports came fast and furious over the radio and TV news channels. This time has not been an uplifting one for our country with reports of shootings in multiple states, including my home, Dallas, Texas.
The tragedies hit very close to home for me. Not because I lost anyone I loved in these tragedies, but perhaps because I lost a dear friend to cancer in the preceding week. And I put myself in the place of the families who are now grieving the loss of their loved ones. They left home that day expecting there would be another hug, another kiss, another “I love you,” another joke, or another chance to say I’m sorry. And in a senseless tragedy, it never came and it will never come. Their lives are forever changed.
Perhaps it also hit close to home for me because it brought back the recollection of my year of internship at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center as a budding neuropsychologist. I worked just a few blocks from where the Oklahoma City bombing took place. All the interns were called in to assist—sharing the news that loved ones were injured or worse. Their lives would never be the same again. It was the first time in my life that I realized no place was safe from evil.
In times like this, we see what is in the hearts of the people. God’s word says, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45 NLT).
In the days since the shootings, I’ve heard many shout in anger that the lives of police matter, or that the lives of African Americans matter, or other groups. But I have a hard time segregating. When I read my Bible, I see things differently. I see that God says ALL lives matter.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NLT). God loves everyone. He sent His son to die for EVERYONE.
Many seem dumb-founded by the violence and racism in America today, yet it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Racism is a spirit and it is evil. We live in a fallen world, a sinful world. These people engaging in such hateful, senseless acts don’t really understand what they are doing…they are pawns in the devil’s hand.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).
When I was in first grade, I asked my mother if I could bring my best friend home with me after school. She agreed and arrangements were made for her to ride the bus with me at day’s end. We snacked and played and enjoyed the innocence of youth and each other’s company.
That night, after taking her home and getting ready for bed, my mother asked a simple question: “Michelle, how come you never told me that your friend was black?”
My answer was simple but truthful, “I never noticed. She’s just my friend and I love her.”
I think that’s the same answer Jesus would give if God asked Him as He hung on the cross dying for our sins, “Jesus, why didn’t you tell me your friend was black / Hispanic / Asian / Muslim / Indian / fat / skinny / tall / short / loud / quiet / etc. ?” I believe Jesus would say, “I never noticed. She/he is just my friend and I love her/him.”
But here’s the thing: God would never ask Jesus that because God doesn’t see our skin color, our gender, our height, OR our sin. He sees us in His image, through the righteousness of Jesus.
In closing, these events require that we respond. The perpetrators of such events were filled with hatred and evil believing that they are superior to others. Yet Jesus showed another way. Jesus showed that if you want to be great, you must be willing to be a servant to all. You must show love. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear” (1 John 4:18). You must be humble. To be first, you must be willing to be last. We can’t fight evil with anger. That’s not how God’s economy works. It’s always the opposite. We must continue to show the love of Christ, and the hope that prevails.
“Love your neighbor as yourself, there is no greater commandment than this” (Mark 12:31).
None of us knows how long we will live. Tragedies like these highlight that uncertainty. Only God knows. “You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer” (Job 14:5 NLT). You never know if you’ll get that chance to say another “I love you,” or “I forgive you,” or “Will you forgive me?” Don’t take that risk. Show love today—not just because it may be the last chance you have, but because it’s God’s way and it makes a difference.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails