The news from Orlando is pretty horrific – 50 dead and 53 more wounded. It’s astonishing how much harm can be done by one hate-filled individual. Just one. Not an army. Not even a team. Just one person.
We’re all praying for the affected communities in Orlando. For the friends and families of those killed. For the wounded, who will be struggling to adjust to a new “normal.” For the LGBT community who now must wonder if they can ever gather safely. And for the larger Orlando community, wrestling with a wound and a lost sense of security that will take months – years – to heal.
But I have another prayer as well. I’m praying for all of us, that we won’t give in to fear. This is the sort of event that shakes a nation. Shakes our collective sense of security. That’s the point of terrorism. That’s where the word comes from – the root of the word and the goal of it’s practitioners is “terror.”
When we’re fearful, we look for quick solutions. A lock on the door. A new insurance policy. A gun under the pillow. A move to a safer neighborhood/city/state. Some of these changes can be genuinely beneficial. But when millions of people are fearful all at the same time, the quickest solutions are often the most fundamentally damaging to the character of the people themselves. A frightened people will do terrible things to feel safe again. Give up freedoms. Vilify outsiders and minorities – anyone who reminds us of the source of our fear. A frightened people will make collective decisions out of the worst parts of human nature.
Even more damaging is the overwhelming desire in our politicians to play to the fear. Ride the fear. Even feed the fear. Fearful individuals can make regretable decisions. Fearful masses can make catastrophic decisions. Unscrupulous leaders will play our fear for personal gain.
So my prayer for Orlando is that there would be at outpouring of love. Of hugs, donations, open doors and open hearts. I pray that Orlando’s churches would reach out to Orlando’s LGBT community in a way both heart-warming and barrier-breaking.
But my prayer for the rest of us – especially those of us who call ourselves Jesus followers – is that we would resist the siren song of fear. This side of heaven, security is an illusion at best. We are never more than one drunken driver or cancer diagnosis away from a life-altering or life-ending event. Never. And yet paradoxically, as followers of Jesus, we are always secure. The love of Christ is all we need, and no event on Earth can take that away from us. As followers of Jesus, we are safe. Always. In all neighborhoods. In all circumstances. At all times.
And so it falls to us to demonstrate fearless living to our friends and neighbors. As Justin Martyr before the Romans, Deitrich Bonhoeffer before the Nazis, Martin Luther King Jr. before the racist whites of Birmingham, we have access to supernatural peace. A peace that allows us to stand before the threat of the sword, the gallows, the firebomb, the terrorist, the cancer diagnosis, and respond as all those saints before us – with love. Supernatural love that comes from supernatural peace. Supernatural love that drives out fear. Supernatural love that is the key to showing a frightened nation a better way.
Pray for Orlando. And for all of us.
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Thank you for writing such a loving response to the victims and their families in Orlando. It meant a lot to read this today.
You’re welcome, Rachel. Thanks for taking the time to leave a note!
Thanks, Phil, for writing this. Will be sharing this on Facebook.
This is really powerful and spot on Phil.
What a fantastic response. The best I’ve seen yet.
Well said and well thought, Phil. It was Wesley L. Duewel in his book “Touch the World Through Prayer” that said: “Prayer is joining with God the broken-hearted Father, Christ the weeping High Priest, and the tender, interceding Holy Spirit by sharing their heart beat and bearing with them the same burdens which they carry in their loving hearts.”
That’s a great quote, Yamil.
I am so thankful your article came across my newsfeed today. You have articulated what has been stirring through my head since this horrific event and gave me the ability to feel some relief for having related to it. I have come to understand myself well enough to know my brain does not respond well to fear, or anxieties created by it. Amidst all the unstoppable political pressures, and the untimely platforms created out of horrific events, I feared we would lose the stories of people whose lives were lost. That because of fear, we would push aside human empathy and hope of what we as a society can learn from this tragedy. What we can do as a human race, not just certain communities or religions, in hopes it will never happen again. And when it does, we continue to look at it as a humanistic problem, not one meant solely for political gain because of our earthly beliefs. We should not be boasting the reality that today, we live in a society where massive amounts of people can be killed in a matter of moments, and our fear of the pain associated with it gets buried in whether we accept certain societal behaviors or outlaw specific methods of human destruction. Neither of which is ultimately our control nor our decision. So I too will pray for all who are touched through this tragedy, as well as for our society to create healing and growth from it. Regardless of who wins an election. Continued love can eventually drive out fear. I hope to never forget the truth that something given to us so freely can be that strong. My apologies for the lengthy comment, thank you again for writing my thoughts and giving temporary relief.
Good words, Phil. Thanks for the reminder. -Gerald
I appreciated this so much. Growing up on VeggieTales, your words and ideals had such a great impact on my childhood. It is no surprise to me today, that this blog post spoke directly to my heart. Thank you for continuing to have a great, loving impact in the Christian community and the world.
It’s lovely, Phil, but it’s not enough. You have to name them: Muslim Americans, just as you would name Jewish Americans. All Muslims are not terrorists. And you have to say this: What Jesus-Believer needs an assault rifle if we are secure in our faith?
Thank you Phil!
I find it interesting after watching Veggie Tales for years, that this message you just wrote is lived out in the lives of Bob, Larry and all the rest of the veggies Thank you for sharing that heart message to those of us who watch. I pray that it will make the difference this world needs to see. I know it has touched our families life.
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but around that same time of the same month there was another shooting. Christina Grimmie, who was on the show The Voice and who professed to be a Christian. She was injured by a stalker of sorts.