A Response to Violence

As I’m writing this, the news is on my television, covering the violence in Manchester, England, where a suicide bomber killed and injured dozens of people — including teenagers and an eight-year-old girl — outside a concert. This past Saturday, a young man, just days away from college graduation, was fatally stabbed as he waited for a ride after visiting friends in Maryland. A few days before that, we watched coverage of a driver in New York City’s Times Square having rammed his car through a street crowded with pedestrians. Reports in April told of a chemical weapon attack in Syria, the victims of which included small children. In January, these same reporters were talking about a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport baggage claim. A new movie came out this past December about the bombing at the Boston Marathon four years ago. It was five years ago this coming December that we watched in horror as details emerged of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Those are only a few examples... there are so many, many, many more. It seems that every week — sometimes multiple times in a week, in a day — we hear about another eruption of violence around the globe.

It breaks my heart.

And I have no doubt
it breaks the heart of God.

For that reason, I have been praying the following prayer, which I share with you here.

Gracious and all-loving God, we pray for all those touched by violence in our community and around our world, that they may know of love in the midst of the pain and chaos around them. Surround them with your grace. We pray for the families and friends of those who have been killed or injured. We pray for all those waiting to hear news of their loved ones. We pray for first responders who so quickly arrive on the scene, seeking to protect and to safeguard and to comfort. We pray for terrified bystanders, who may not have been physically harmed, but who are nonetheless affected deeply by the violence they witness. We pray for hospital staff providing care in the crisis. We pray for the police and military who seek to bring safety and protection in the midst of the chaos. We pray for all affected — everywhere — by the terrible acts of violence that occur all too often.

Lord, help those of us living in this in-pain, messed-up world. Give us your courage when we are afraid. Give us your wisdom when we are unsure. Give us your strength when we feel weak. Help us, God. We need you, now more than ever. Please.

We pray for people — all around our world — who are entertaining thoughts of bloodshed. May their spirits be touched by grace so overwhelming, that whatever is broken in them would begin to mend. May people come into their lives who flood their hearts with love so strong, that the fires of violence would be quenched and not stoked.

And may we so clearly know what part we can take, that we may bring healing and hope to our communities and world. Always-loving God, help us to be bold carriers of your peace into the hurt. Give us your wisdom, strength, and courage as we desperately seek a way forward. We believe you desire to guide us… so we ask that you do so! Please! Amen!

This is a beautiful world we live in, filled with people God loves. I pray this day (and every day) that we — you, me, all of us — would live in a way that brings healing and hope. To all people. Everywhere.