We grieve at reports of a mass murder in Orlando this weekend. We invite you to join us today and in the weeks to come in praying for the survivors—and for the many families who lost precious loved ones.
The fact that attacks like this are heartbreakingly common doesn’t make it any easier to intellectually understand or spiritually process them. How can people commit such terrible acts? Why doesn’t God intervene to stop them? There isn’t a simple and easy answer—but these resources, written in the aftermath of past tragedies, might help you to come to grips with what violent acts like this one say about humans, religious faith, and God:
- Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering? — Christian author and apologist Lee Strobel’s thoughts in the aftermath of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting comprise a very thorough exploration of Christianity’s “problem of evil.”
- What Does the Bible Say About Violence? — does the Bible condone violence? How does the Bible tell us to respond to violence? An in-depth look at a troubling question.
- Violence, the Bible, and the Sikh Temple — reflections on the 2012 Sikh Temple attack in Wisconsin.
- What Does the Bible Say About Religious Extremism? — while the presence (or absence) of religious motives in the Orlando shooting is currently unclear, Mel Lawrenz’ reflection on “religious violence” is worth reading.
The essays linked above contain numerous links to passages in the Bible that address questions of violence and evil. One of the most famous such passages is Romans 8, and it’s worth reading and sharing today:
The sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be shown to us. Everything God made is waiting with excitement for God to show his children’s glory completely. Everything God made was changed to become useless, not by its own wish but because God wanted it and because all along there was this hope: that everything God made would be set free from ruin to have the freedom and glory that belong to God’s children.
We know that everything God made has been waiting until now in pain, like a woman ready to give birth. Not only the world, but we also have been waiting with pain inside us. We have the Spirit as the first part of God’s promise. So we are waiting for God to finish making us his own children, which means our bodies will be made free. We were saved, and we have this hope. If we see what we are waiting for, that is not really hope. People do not hope for something they already have. But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently. — Romans 8:18-25
No doubt many details will emerge once authorities have had a chance to thoroughly investigate the crime. We’ll also hear politicians, pundits, religious leaders, and many others proposing different solutions and responses. We hope you’ll weigh those suggestions prayerfully and thoughtfully, but that whatever else happens, you’ll remember to continually pray for those affected, and to “mourn with those who mourn.” May God comfort the victims and their families—and may our response to this violence point people toward, and not away from, Jesus Christ.