Is this real?

The National Crisis of Mass Shootings

By Gwen Sellers

Do you ever wonder if this is real life? Some days I am so shocked by what takes place that I almost can't believe it's really happening. The US is certainly in a period of turmoil. Most recently, people have been killed over what seems to boil down to fear and hatred. Police violence, riots, violence against police, mass shootings — and those are only the ones that have made national news in the past few months. Is this really happening in my country? We also have the presidential election complete with more than the typical amount of politicking. Corruption, lack of integrity, and lack of competence seem not only obvious, but even applauded. The populace is evidently displeased with the candidate options, and yet those candidates have somehow managed to win enough support to get them where they are; clearly people are voting for them.

Perhaps my shock speaks to my own ethnocentrism more than anything else. I have lived a fairly trouble-free life in a country that has been mostly safe and, at least I thought, relatively fair. Of course I expected the outliers here and there — catastrophic exceptions to the rule that would be quickly handled with justice and compassion. I thought racism and inequality were dying out, that we were working together to resolve issues, not that strife was ramping up. Though I know the wheels of justice turn slowly, I thought that at least the system functioned with logic and integrity. Questionable and even corrupt things happening in the political arena is nothing new, but it used to seem a bit more scandalous and generally frowned upon than it does now. I realize that the US has enjoyed an undeserved time of internal peace and that I've lived an undeserved peaceful life. We're now beginning to fully understand how life is in a majority of countries. So how am I to react?

Of course I want better things for the US. I want my nephews to be able to grow up in the same pleasant circumstances I did. I don't want people to fear going out in public. I don't want law-abiding citizens to live in fear of law enforcement, nor law enforcement to live in fear of the public. I don't want people being killed so often and so senselessly. I don't want to lose the rights and freedoms we have cherished. As I've previously written, the solution for our country is for people to come to know Jesus Christ. We cannot expect a political savior. We have one Savior and He has already completed the work. The great thing is that He provides so much more than a nice life in an enjoyable country. He gives real life, eternal life (John 10:10; 14:6). He is the Savior of the world. He cares about every human being, every heart. Jesus isn't ethnocentric, and He is interested in much greater things than our nation. And yet He is also interested in such small things as the details of my life. God does the whole picture — big and small. National crisis has a way of putting the struggles of my own life into perspective, and yet my personal struggles do still remain. The day still goes on for those of us on the outside looking in. Sometimes it is the happenings in my own life, not the national news, that has me questioning whether this is really happening. God, and He alone, can handle it all. He is Lord of nations and Lord of individual lives.

Aside from reaffirming that the only solution is Jesus, I'm finding myself seeing just how true Scripture is and perhaps understanding the heart of God more. Romans 1:21-25 says:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Second Timothy 4:3-4 says, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." It is glaringly evident to me that my country is not at all following God. The decline has been happening for years, and now we don't even try to hide it. Or, perhaps more accurately, people simply don't recognize it. First Corinthians 2:14 says, "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." I am sometimes just as shocked by the reaction to what takes place as I am by what actually takes place. It feels like many in our country have been blinded to truth. Rejecting Jesus ultimately leads to a rejection of all truth (and all sanity). Without God, mankind is fully incapable of living life well. I'm sad that this is the state of my country. But more than that, I'm sad that this is the state of the world. So many are lost and don't even know it. How God's heart must break!

Along with warning Timothy of the times to come, Paul told him to "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching....As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 3:2, 5). While the world seems to fall apart, we can trust in God who is our firm foundation. We can study His Word and follow it. We can focus on fulfilling the work with which He has entrusted each of us (Ephesians 2:10). We can share His truth so that more will come to know Him. We can pray for His quick return and for His glory to be fully magnified in whatever He has willed.

When the world seems so shockingly off its hinges that you wonder if this is actually happening, rest in God. Be encouraged that He is still on His throne. He sees. He knows. He has a plan that is good. He has won the ultimate victory. This world is not our home; while we inhabit it we are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-21) entrusted with participating in God's work. We are also beloved children of God who can experience peace in the gentle grip of His capable and caring hands (Romans 8). So mourn; experience the heartbreak of God over violence, racism, fear, division; and then stand strong in Him. Do the work He has prepared for you to do, in whatever arena that may be. Seek Him and seek to make Him known. He is our refuge and our hope. A better world awaits, but this world still needs the truth of God. He has put you here for a purpose. Lean into Him and, as the TobyMac song Move says,
Move, keep walkin' soldier keep movin' on
Move, keep walkin' until the mornin' comes
Move, keep walkin' soldier keep movin' on
And lift your head, it ain't over yet, ain't over yet.

Published 7-18-16