Last week I tried to write about the kidnapping incident involving the disabled man, here in the United States. Then the shooting at Fort Lauderdale happened.
I wanted to write but I couldn’t find the words. The truth is, the kidnapping hits a little too close to home. My oldest daughter has epilepsy and learning disabilities and encopresis. I worry about other kids making fun of her and wonder if she will be accepted as she gets older. Will she get bullied? Will those who love her stand in the gap and have her back when others desire to do her harm?
My heart aches for the man who was kidnapped. When I think about what he endured, I am horrified and filled with sorrow. I am deeply saddened when I think of him being afraid and confused and tormented. It was a hateful, heartless, deplorable act and it breaks my heart.
And, I’m angry.
I’m angry that this happened. I’m angry that we live in a world were these kids thought they could do this. I’m angry that they have gotten away with lesser grievances before, and that it built up to this horrendous act.
I’m angry that our society continuously speaks out against bullying and yet we still allow it. I’m angry that fear and red tape keeps people from stepping in and doing what is right to stop things long before they get so out of hand. I’m angry that violent acts aren’t stopped as they occur because it can be reported, and then our hands don’t have to get dirty.
I’m angry that these kids targeted someone who is less able than they are. It’s not cool, it’s not funny. It’s cowardly and shameful. It’s despicable, it’s indecent, and it’s appalling.
I’m sad too.
I’m sad that these kinds of behaviors and crimes are happening over and over again. We act upset for a moment, but we are not so bothered that we intervene. We are not so bothered that we stand up and say, “Enough!” when we see wrong actions taking place. We can take a video on our phones…but intervene? It’s so rare that when someone finally does intervene its front page news! And, I’m not talking about rioting or beating someone up because you disagree or don’t like them. I’m talking about intervening when someone is being hurt, bullied, or harassed.
I’m sad that we’re afraid to help each other out. We don’t stop to help a neighbor whose car broke down, much less a stranger. We don’t stop a beating on the street, or a coworker from being harassed by other coworkers, we don’t tell the bully to pipe down…
Keep your head down, don’t make eye contact, mind your own business…Those are the rules of society. You might make it worse, you might get into trouble, and you might become the target…
We think if we report something, or make a cash donation to a cause then we’ve done our part. Yet hate crimes and horrible acts continue to happen and we aren’t even shocked anymore.
This is why we love stories about heroes who stand against the odds and are willing to sacrifice themselves for good. We desperately need heroes.
And, the shooting.
I’m upset about the shooting too. This was a terrible thing and my prayers are going out to those hurt by this event. It is senseless and breeds fear. The physical and emotional wounds run deep.
And, there are a good number of people who are very quick to start the controversial discussions about where to place blame. Our country can’t even have a day to mourn before it starts in with the controversy.
Can we stop arguing for a second and remember that lives were lost, lives were ruined, and one man just threw his life away.
And, blaming guns, or mental illness or religion, or terrorists won’t bring them back or fix this. While discussing these things in order to blame one group or another just creates more division.
What if the common denominator isn’t guns or mental illness or religion or terrorism or racism? What if the problem is a human condition? What if the problem, in both these horrible acts, is depravity? Then what? Because, that isn’t so simple to “fix.” It isn’t even something we can fix. That is something only God can fix within us.
It’s easy to cast blame. It’s easy to ignore the deficit within our own souls. It’s easy to point at someone or something else and never look deeply at our own hearts. It’s easy to say, “That person is crazy,” and then never have to ask ourselves if we have ever been guilty of turning a blind eye.
That is humanity today. We don’t step up and do the right thing because we are inconvenienced or afraid, or both. Maybe the truth is…I’ve been afraid. I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to get into trouble. I don’t want to bring hardship on my family. I don’t want to get laughed at…
What a shame.
Am I really any better than those kidnappers if I let it happen and if I let fear dictate my response?
Will you search your heart? Will I?
Are we prepared to take responsibility for the part we play in turning a blind eye to lesser offenses simply because it’s convenient or easier? Are we prepared to search our souls and stand against injustices and against fear itself and do what is right no matter what the cost or sacrifice?
Who will decide to refuse to sit back and watch as horrible acts unfold? Who will call on God to strengthen them? Who will beg God to give them courage? Who will repent of ignoring the darker parts of society, of the depravity within their heart, and of being ruled by fear? Who will stop being afraid of the consequence of doing what is right?
I am angry and I am sad and… I am searching my heart.
I don’t want to live there in that space. I want to lift my eyes up to the hills and set them on God and, by his grace, overcome the fear. I want to have a heart that is repentant and compassionate and courageous. A heart that loves others more than myself. Because perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4:18- “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”
If we are unified, we can overcome the obstacles together. If we are unified we can overcome fear and division. If we are unified we can overcome deplorable acts because we won’t be alone in our work.
If we are unified, and if we humble ourselves before the Lord God and repent of the darkness within our hearts, he will hear our cries and he will show us mercy and grace, and he will heal our land.
No amount of laws and regulations or fear can accomplish what the LORD can accomplish if we let him. If our hearts are clean before him and our prayers are frequent, he will hear. These acts that happened are evil and God can be our deliverance from the evils of this world. But, are we prepared to trust him? Are we prepared to let him? Are we ready to let him change our hearts? Because…
It starts there.
2 Corinthians 7:14- “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Timothy 1:7- “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”