This post is clearly not my norm, but it is very necessary. There is a dark cloud over The City Beautiful today and it certainly doesn’t feel like The Happiest Place on Earth. The city that creates happiness for millions now needs you to return the favor. #prayforOrlando
I was up until about 2 a.m. last night baking for our second Sunday social at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. Little did I know, about 4 miles from my church the largest mass shooting in our countries history was currently taking place. Like most, I woke up today immediately faced with news reports about the tragedy. I have sadly lived through many shootings and terrorist attacks, but I don’t think one has hit me the way this one has. Any time there is senseless loss of life we as humans mourn and grieve. But…. there is something completely unnerving and unsettling when it hits in your home town. I have seen countless locals interviewed before during tragic events, and although my heart went out to them I couldn’t completely comprehend what they were going through.
The Webster Dictionary gives us some insight on why today has been especially troubling for those who live in Orlando. Home is defined as one’s place of residence, a familiar or usual setting, relaxed and comfortable, in harmony with the surroundings, on familiar ground… This list goes on, but I think you can begin to grasp my point that for those of us who call The City Beautiful “our home”, feel very distant from our home today. Whether you know someone directly involved or not, this happened in our home town. Your home is supposed to be your rock- ground you feel comfortable standing on. Today that ground was shaken. For myself, being a Christian I have to remind myself that my rock is not my earthy home but it is my savior, Jesus Christ. And on that note I would like to point out that religion did not cause this tragedy today. Religion does not cause tragedy- our sinful broken world caused this horrific loss of life.
As a Christian I know and understand that God does not promise a carefree life- in fact he guarantees we will have struggle. John 16:33- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” And I say these things, not to go on some random rant of preaching, but to prove a point that was very evident today as I watched the news. The number one word or phrase trending right now is #prayforOrlando- running close behind is #prayforhumanity and #prayfortheworld. I had to stop reading comments on social media because many made me feel sick to my stomach, but among the horrific and disrespectful comments were prayers. SO MANY PRAYERS!!! People, God is not dead- he is surely alive! It is a shame that it takes a tragedy like this to see it- but it is beyond obvious that people still have hope.
Our country is facing some huge hurdles right now as we debate our differences. There is no denying the extreme tension that exists, but when it really matters we can still put aside our differences and love each other. That is nothing to take lightly- seeing people get up and take action during times like this is HUGE. There was an immediate need for blood donations for the victims- our city rallied together and created 4 hour long lines at multiple blood banks across several counties. Some who couldn’t donate blood for health reasons went to local stores to provide water for those waiting outside in donation lines. Our food truck vendors showed up to help feed those waiting in the long lines. Even more heroic- those on the inside of the night club risked their lives to help save the wounded. Do you think taking off your cloths and applying a truncate to a stranger who is heavily bleeding, all while gun shots are being fired was any easy thing to do? People- humanity, kindness and love still exist. It might seem hard to believe most of the time- but today among all the heartbreak, tragedy and death we have rallied together to prove that we can be united.
As tempting as it is- do not get sucked into social media debates. I, myself get sucked in from time to time- trust me when I say I spent more time on that gorilla situation than I care to admit. And now I look back at that situation and just shake my head at how heated I got over it. Look at what happened today and you will likely realize all the things we have gotten all “huffy” about pale in comparison to the events of last night. The greatest thing we can do to honor those who lost their life is keep up this team work, compassion and feeling of community. Show the world that we will not be shaken- show the world that this will only make us stronger. Pray for Orlando, pray for a city that is still in the process of saving over 50 lives in the hospital and pray for the city that has to prepare for 50 funerals this week. #prayforOrlando