A Prayer for Our Community
Our social media feeds last week were ablaze with reports of violence on the campus of Perry Hall High School. A candid video captured on a bystander's phone showed a group of several students kicking and wailing on a student lying on the ground in the parking lot, seemingly with no one to intervene. In the video's final frame, one of the assailing students is seen to be holding what looks like an assault rifle. (It's since been determined that it was a pellet gun.) The few-second video was enough to send the community into full freak-out mode. This is crazy, and it's happening in our backyard.
When our schools and neighborhoods erupt with violence, we are left with a cacophony of confused thoughts and feelings:
Sadness for the lives immediately affected by the violence.
Anger at the "powers that be" whose response and preventative measures we deem inadequate.
Disapproval of those who perpetrated the violence, or who did nothing to stop it.
Fear for our own lives and loved ones.
How is a Jesus follower to respond? I won't pretend to have all the answers, or attempt a full-bodied response to these tragic events. But here's one thing I know we should do:
In the face of sadness, anger, and fear over the brokenness in the world, we should turn to God. We should turn our sadness into cries for help to the Lord. Turn our anger into pleas of desperation for God's justice to be done and his glory to be seen. Turn our fear into confident reminders of God's faithfulness, goodness, and love. Even in the face of such travesty, there is a Kingdom being built where the lion will lie down with the lamb, and a Day coming when the battle axe will be bent into a gardening rake. Let it come, Lord!
Here's a portion of a " prayer of lament " from Presbyterian pastor Scotty Smith. May it inform and encourage your own prayers in the midst of the trouble in our community:
"Until that Day, Jesus, help us to live by the gospel, not by the sword—by the way of your cross, not by the ways of mere men. You are the Prince of Peace—sovereign over angels and demons, kings and conflicts, the mercurial and the merciful. Grant us grace-seed to sow today, in light of the ultimate Day of the harvest of peace.
So very Amen we pray, in your strong and loving name."