A Voice is Heard in Uvalde

A Voice is Heard in Uvalde 

Article by R.D. McClenagan
“A voice is heard in Uvalde, lamentation and bitter weeping.
Mothers weeping for their children, refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

Yesterday, I went to visit my girls, both in 2nd grade, to eat lunch with them. It was the last full day of school, and I wanted to see them at their school, with their friends, enjoying those last moments of the school year—so carefree and fun. As the last days of the school year should be for every child.

Yesterday, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, I am sure parents went to eat lunch with their kids as well, to celebrate the final week of school. But right around lunchtime, the gunshots began to ring out in one classroom at this school, and minutes later, 19 children and two teachers were dead.

There are, of course, no words that can capture the grief, horror, shock, and evil of this mass shooting. The reports of parents wailing outside the school as they heard the news about their children shook me to my core. This is the deepest grief, the greatest pain—to lose a child and to lose a child in such a senseless and evil act of violence adds another vicious layer of devastation.

As followers of Jesus, we must be at the forefront of praying and asking the Lord to provide deep and felt comfort to the families. We must not become cynical about prayer, even when it can feel so woefully inadequate for the moment. God invites us to pray and to pray on behalf of others, and we know how very present the Lord is to those in the valley of the shadow of death. President Biden quoted Psalm 34:18 last night in his address to the nation— “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  

There is a reason that the prayer book of the people of Israel, the Psalms, is filled with prayers of lament. Because there is so much in our world to lament and grieve. The Bible shows us the world as it truly is—filled with suffering, pain, and death. There is good, and joy and beauty in the world, and the Bible revels in that as well. Still, from Genesis 3 on, we see an absolute mess of humanity on page after page and a gracious and loving God entering into this very mess with us, to give us real and actual hope in the very midst of it.

We can and must pray to the Lord when tragedies happen and to not lose heart in coming before Him, pleading with Him to move in power. The church has always met the greatest moments of suffering with the deepest reservoirs of prayer.

But prayer is not all God calls us to. Pray is an action, but it is not meant to replace other actions that may be needed for justice to roll down or for systemic issues to be addressed.

There are many different issues at play within these tragic mass shootings that we have seen in our country over the past 25 years. There is mental health, gun control, family dynamics, online behavior, spiritual oppression, social isolation, and others that help to form the web that is a mass shooting. It is not just one thing, and so there is not just one solution, but there are surely more solutions available to us as a nation to push back against these shootings.

The church is not the state. We do not have the power to pass or enact laws, but that does not mean we should be disengaged from the state or from the issues of our day. We must advocate for policies that create a more just world. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution takes center stage each time there is a mass shooting and how exactly what the founders intended relates to the personal possession of the types of firearms we have today. That is not for this post.

The 2nd Amendment is important, but it is not as important as the 2nd part of the Great Commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. Loving others is the controlling ethic of the New Testament, not individual rights. This doesn’t mean that individual rights are unimportant, but that the American insistence on individual rights so often taking precedent over every other consideration is not what the New Testament teaches. What must drive followers of Jesus is the flourishing and well-being of others, and not ourselves. What is it costing you to truly love your neighbor?

So, my encouragement is to pray and pray and pray.
And let love for others be the greatest ethic of your heart and hands.
And don’t give in to cynicism.
And know there is evil in the world that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.
And weep.
And know America is a good country, but it is not the Kingdom of God.
And pray specifically for deep repentance and revival in our country.
And hope in the Lord.

I was able to tuck my girls in last night. To say a prayer with them. To tickle them. To know they are in the room just down from my wife and mine. 19 sets of parents did not get any of that last night and never will again. So many moms and dads weeping for their children. We weep with them. As does our Lord. It is not all the Lord is asking us, but it the right place to start.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

R.D. McClenagan

Pastor for Adult Ministries & Teaching
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