From last year:
Too often we rush to speak, when we would be better served to remain silent for a while. We have a need to quickly summarize every tragedy, maybe so that we can move on with our lives and not dwell on unpleasant things.
Why do wars happen? Because it’s sinful, fallen world. Next. What should we do about Don Imus? Fire him. Next. Duke Lacrosse players – guilty or innocent? Guilty, of course.
On Monday, April 16, we witnessed in horror the most tragic school-shooting in U.S. history. In the aftermath of the killings, 23-year old Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho took his own life after taking the lives of 32 others. As the Virginia Tech community and the town of Blacksburg, VA, attempted to mourn the loss of so many loved ones, the media went into its usual full-court press in order to provide the full story. In the process, though, secondary stories were highlighted rather than the great loss of human life. Questions abounded: How did the Va. Tech administration failed to protect their students and campus? What was the killer’s motivation? Would gun control become an instant issues in Congress? As a nation, we were so impatient for an answer.
Liberals asserted that this incident proved a need to revisit the gun control issue. After all, if there were no guns in the United States then this would not have occurred. Conservatives responded that the killings proved the need for anyone and everyone have a gun if they so desired. After all, if everyone had a gun then someone could have stopped the killer from doing as much damage. (Perhaps you want to debate this on the message board, but I have no desire to do so).
Any time Christians are called to respond to a tragedy such as this, our first move should be to pray. In this instance, we can pray for the victims as they stand before the Father. We can pray for the families who lost a loved one. We can pray for the Christian parents of Seung-Hui Cho, who are mortified that their son could cause so much destruction. In the face of murder, we must also pray for self-control in our desire for vengeance. We must also pray for patience when the world looks to the Church for a moral response. We cannot rush to judgment like so many others will do.
We must be present for the victim’s families and friends like so many Virginia churches have been already. We must avoid foolish debates such as whether the Virginia Tech administration is somehow culpable for the murders. Seung-Hui Cho is responsible, and his video testimony is a lasting reminder of that fact. We must also remember and celebrate the lives of the victims. Take a moment and look through the profiles of those who were lost:
Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor and an engineering professor, did all in his power to save his students. Though this Romanian-born scholar managed to survive the worst atrocity of the 20th Century, his life ended in what was believed to be the safe environment of a college campus. He gave his life by placing it between the killer and his students, blocking the entrance to his classroom and urging them to escape. His lasting act modeled the life of Christ, laying down his life for others.
As I sat in worship on Sunday, the morning litany directed my thoughts and prayers to Blacksburg, Virginia. We recited together this petition, equal parts sorrow and hope:
Take us, O God, to places we are reluctant to go, to the wounded places, the shattered places, the terrified places. There may we feed your lambs with compassion, tend your sheep with healing, feed your flock with hope. There, with Peter, may we move from denial to discipleship, and thus find strength in the midst of this week’s sorrow and rage, to sing again the Easter song, “Alleluia, Christ is risen!”
To pray is to exemplify patience in a world that seeks quick answers to the unanswerable. To pray is to check our own emotions or political leanings in favor of ministering to those who are in despair. Let us show self-control when we respond to the world’s tragedies, so that they might see our churches as places of healing and grace.
EMAILS FROM VIRGINIA TECH | BY: LAURA
Laura is a young lady from my church that graduated in 2005 from Virginia Tech. Now, a graduate student at Auburn University, Laura has lost friends in the tragic event we have all watched from our television. When she heard of the loss of her friends and her former home, she went back to mourn the deaths of her friends. Below are two emails she sent describing the situation and prayer concerns, which we share with her permission hoping that you may continue your prayers and know that your prayers are meaningful to so many.
There is no way to explain what Blacksburg is like this week. The eerie calm sets a backdrop for mourning as thousands of news crews stand around trying to get some story about what happened. I got to Blacksburg early Thursday morning. Pictures on CNN and other stations do no justice to the memorials set up by students. 32 Hokie stones sat in semi-circle on the drill field pay tribute and stand guard as a memorial to the dead. A lone wreath sits atop war memorial…a place where all cadets who have died in war are honored. The orange and maroon wreath this week honors the innocent.
I’ve heard countless stories this week about my friends who jumped out of windows before being shot and of friends who did die in the tragedy. Overwhelmingly, students here still are numb. Comprehending what has happened is still far away. Thursday’s funeral for Caitlin was more of a celebration for a wonderful life. Caitlin was a believer and her parents took much comfort in the fact that they’ll see her again. As days turn into weeks and months, pray for the students still at school, their families and the Hokie family across the nation who are still trying to “figure out” what has happened. Thanks for all of your prayers and emails. They are truly a blessing.
Thanks to all of you for your continued thoughts and prayers throughout the week. I got back to Auburn last night exhausted and still a bit numb from the whole experience. Today, students go back to class and try to retain as much a normal lifestyle as possible. There are still several memorials this week. Please continue to pray for the students at tech as they just now are realizing what has happened in Blacksburg. Pray specifically that the media would back off and leave the students alone. You would not believe how many cameras and reporters come up to grieving students, alums and families to ask questions and get the story and answers they want. Lastly please pray for the Christian community. It was hit very hard by the shootings last Monday…5 students from Campus Crusade were killed, 1 Baptist student union member was killed, and Caitlin, who was a member of the church NLCF. Pray for the staff of these organizations as they grieve and lead all at the same time…I couldn’t imagine such a task.
I continue to hear stories of bravery and love for the school many of us have called home. Most students are proud to be Hokies and will continue with class even though it’s optional for the rest of the semester. All in all four of my friends were killed last week. Please pray for their families and friends as we all try to pick up the pieces and resume life. Thanks again for all of your support. Hokies everywhere feel it.