“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 KJV
Greetings. I pray that you had an enjoyable holiday and were able to spend time with family and friends. The New Year 2017 is in motion and many of us have stepped into it with new goals and mentalities. Some of us are participating in a 21 day Daniel fast, while others may not be fasting from food, but we have committed to giving up certain things in order to increase our focus on Christ and improve ourselves. In all that you do I pray that you remain focused, and I wish the peace of Christ upon you. In taking an assessment of Facebook statuses and listening to conversations I find that a majority of people embarked upon 2017 with positive thoughts and high hopes. We are at the beginning of the year and have a lot of time left to make it a good one. Sadly before flight 2017 could reach 10,000, feet it was hit with some turbulence on Friday January 6. On this day the accused shooter pulled out a pistol and opened fire on innocent passengers at the Ft Lauderdale airport. He emptied his 9mm semi automatic handgun and then reloaded once. When you heard this tragic news how did you feel? What thoughts ran through your mind when you discovered that another shooting had occurred?
If you are like me, you are still trying to process the multitude of mass shootings that have taken place both in America and other countries. In 2016 there was the Orlando nightclub shooting which left 50 killed and 53 injured. In 2015 In San Bernardino, California there was 14 dead and 22 wounded. 3 dead and 9 injured in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 9 dead and 9 injured in Rosenburg, Oregon at Umpqua Community College. Then there was the infamous attack that killed nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.
In Each of these tragic shootings innocent people lost their lives. The loss of one life is far too many. I am not here to lobby for stricter gun laws in America. However, it is evident from the immense number of gun homicides in America in 2016 that our nation needs tougher gun control laws. The most recent mass shooting claimed the lives of 5 innocent people and several others remain in the hospital fighting for their lives.
In the Scripture, Jesus revealed to his Disciples that they would find trouble in this world. Thousands of years later we the Disciples of Jesus find trouble in today's world. What I love about Jesus is that he assures us that we will find peace in him. When tragedies like mass shootings occur we must pray with out ceasing. We must not take the power of prayer for granted. Our prayers have the ability to dispatch angels to places we may not be able to travel to. Our prayers have the ability to provide protection against wickedness. Our prayers are comforting to those who are grieving or suffering from physical pain.
The shooting that took place at the airport in Ft Lauderdale on Friday may not have claimed the life of someone you know. In spite of that I ask you to pray and show concern as if it did effect you or a family member directly. My prayer is that we don't become desensitized by the mass shootings, and stop showing concern for victims and their families. My prayer is that we respond to tragedy in our respective communities of faith. My hope is that we have plans of action in place to cope, and function in the event something like this occurs again at OUR local airport.
The news reports revealed that the 26-year-old Army veteran Esteban Santiago was suffering from mental illness. He believed he was hearing voices from ISIS. His family said he wasn't the same since he came back from deployment deeply troubled after he saw two of his National Guard buddies killed. He is said to have reached out for help, but nothing was done. Before we blame this on terrorism lets have conversations about mental illness.
Lets ask ourselves what we can do to educate ourselves on the topic of mental illness. In a non offensive way lets see if we can identify those who are mentally ill in our communities and find help for them. In many cases, those who suffer from mental illness will display signs to those around around them that they are suffering. As we move forward in this new year lets pay close attention to those we come in contact with. Challenge ourselves to go out of our way to check on our neighbors and make sure they are alright. Following link illustrates numerous mass shootings that have taken place over the years. http://nyti.ms/1XR6uBi
Questions for Discussion and Reflection:
1. What does Jesus tell us about the world?
2. What should the church do about mental illness?
3. What could have been done to prevent this shooting?
4. What is our role as Christians?