All of us have seen pictures, listened to the TV talk shows, or read about the horrific massacre in Orlando. How easy it is to point fingers and place blame on individuals or a group who should have been better prepared and more ready to keep such a tragedy from happening. When, as individuals or a nation, we start down that road it takes the focus off the suffering and heartache being experienced by families and friends of those who lost their lives. I would hope as a people of faith we can stay focused on the suffering and death of 49 individuals and the pain of the families who lost loved ones.
Paul wrote words to his Philippian friends that may help us “turn away from the ugliness” and deal more creatively and positively with what happened in Orlando. He said, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you have learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies” (The Message).
The focus is not on what might or should have been, but on that which happened. Our thoughts and prayers need to focus on those who suffered loss and those who still need God’s physical healing. By keeping our minds and spirits fixed on Jesus, we will become a positive witness to the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior.
Let us become more diligent in prayer and seeking the mind of Christ going forward. If we do, I’m convinced the Holy Spirit will guide us into a deeper relationship with those who suffer, not only in Orlando, but with our sisters and brothers who suffer in other areas of the world.
Other responses to the Orlando shooting:
Ronald D. Beachley is Western Pennsylvania District executive minister.