Several weeks removed now from a horrific tragedy in Colorado and I have some thoughts that I wanted to commit to writing. When these tragedies occur there is an outpouring of questions and usually an outpouring of prayer. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by such awfulness. That is a beautiful and appropriate sentiment, one that I certainly share. I continue to keep them in my prayers that they may be comforted and blessed.
But, all to soon the sentiment seems to fade. While those directly affected will carry the scars of the incident for long term, the country at large seems to move on to a slightly different normal, but not much different. It is an all too common pattern.
They are cries for us to "do something" to prevent such things from happening again, but those cries to tend to fade until another event brings them out again and we are reminded about just how many mass murders have occurred. It seems that the knowledge that there is little we can do to prevent all crazy intent murderers from committing their crimes sinks in at least a little and the cries cease for a time.
The cries of "do something" to me seem rather arrogant. Have we become so reliant upon our government that we look only to them for answers to our problems? The government continues to prove it is incompetent at anything that is really not their responsibility. Making more laws will not prevent criminals from committing crimes, but it somehow makes some people feel better that "something" is being done.
The answer for bettering society does not lie within government. It lies within us humbly turning back to God, acknowledging our weakness and our need and committing to living His standard. This cannot be enforced upon us, it has to individually decided. Compelling does not equal conversion. But, it must be freely said that we need Him.
Every tragedy that strikes affords us the reminder to return to God, and it is done for a time. However, the pattern indicates a short return marked with a lack of true and lasting conversion.
We should well remember our Founding Fathers and Mothers whose reliance on God was paramount to their victorious revelation and then the creation of a free nation. When I think of George Washington who added into the oath of the office of presidency "so help me God" I marvel at his reliance on Divinity. The phrase "so help me God" strengthens the oath and makes a person more accountable not just to man but to Him. It also seems to be a plea, "help me God" a recognition that the task requires guidance and strength beyond human capacity.
We should also remember how a reliance on God is what brought about the end of slavery in this country and elsewhere. A true conversion to Christianity brought people to the commitment to fight to end it. I will reiterate again Abraham Lincolns quote, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."
We are in the same place, we've forgotten God. Do we have national sins? To be sure. We have allowed a debt to accrue that will enslave generations. We have allowed men and women (Republican, Democrat, Independents) of deplorable character to be our representatives. As a society we continue to devolve to a place where statements supporting God and His commandments are considered hateful.
Do we recognize that the simple answers for solving so many of societies problems are found clearly and simply in His commandments?
We need a lasting conversion, a return to God. He is the true source of freedom. Without Him we will be a mass of people with little guidance searching for any leader who will be bold enough to lead in any direction he/she pleases. History has borne that out to be true.
My prayers are that we will take the opportunities presented to us, to return to Him humbly and fully and freely.
Update: At the time that I wrote this I was unaware of yet another mass shooting that occurred in Wisconsin at a place of worship. It was certainly saddening to learn of this horrific incident, and thoughts and prayers go out to those affected. As with the shooting in Colorado I hope also that people will choose to look to God and to follow His patterns in order to find healing.