Praying for Las Vegas victims and families

Published 9:24 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The late Dr. William Sloane Coffin, Jr. was the former pastor of Riverside Church in New York City. His son, Alex, was killed when his car skidded off the highway into Boston Harbor. In his first sermon after Alex’s death, Dr. Coffin stated that he was infuriated by well-intentioned folks who said that it must have been God’s will.

“My own consolation,” he said, “lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that Alex died; that when the waves closed over the sinking car, God’s heart was the first of all our hearts to break.”

Even as we grieve for the numerous victims and their families, and pray for those in Las Vegas, I am sure that God’s heart was the first to break over this terrible example of humankind’s inhumanity to humankind.

It must have been exceedingly difficult for our loving heavenly father, who desires only goodness, justice and mercy for all his children, to see his creation at such continual violent loose ends.

Though this story before us today, is never the same, nevertheless, there is a sameness recurring in this story-a form of mental illness, a mass shooting, 24-7 intense media coverage and the relentless search for a motive.

I simply can’t help wondering how many other mentally challenged individuals watch these events intently and somehow envision their own moment in the sun.

All I know is that too many unfortunate happenings are occurring in our society today where “being at the wrong place at the wrong tine” is no longer a sufficient answer for these horrific acts of violence.

As we pray for the victims and their families, those wounded or hurt, law enforcement officials, first responders, the community of Las Vegas and our country, our hearts continue to grieve. But let us be sure that God is grieving even more for all those affected, and that is both their and our consolation and hope. For in God’s breaking heart, we find our comfort.

Grasping for perspective on this senseless tragedy, here are a few additional thoughts and/or possibilities for action. First, we can continue to pray for all those involved. Intercessory prayer is an open avenue and vehicle for God’s mercy to be extended. Prayer for others helps the ones prayer for, the ones offering the prayers and cooperates with God’s purposes for the welfare of all his children.

Specifically, we can pray that the grieving families be comforted, the wounded or hurt be healed, the traumatized be steadied, and the law enforcement officials be enabled. And, of course, there are many other possible prayers to be prayed. The important thing is to keep on praying.

We can join the Samaritan Brigade and extend practical help to those in need! Dr. Jim Denison, noted cultural expert and Christian writer, on his Denison Forum, shared that country singer Kane Brown performed in Las Vegas hours before the attack. Shortly after the attack, Brown tweeted, “This world is sick.”

According to Dr. Denison, “But someone responded, ‘The world is not sick. One person was sick. One person does not represent the world at large.’ “

Without doubt, that statement is true. If the world were totally sick, how can we account for the good that occurred during, after and since that Las Vegas attack? To be sure, there were those who ran over and trampled others while seeking to escape the shooting spree.

But there was so much more that happened — strangers being carried out by fellow concert goers, strangers bandaging bloody wounds, strangers using their vehicles for ambulances taking people to hospitals, strangers opening cars doors to their fellow human beings and their safety, people standing in long lines waiting to give blood and on and on.

Another way we can help is by making donations to proper funds set up to help the afflicted in this Las Vegas crisis.

Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways.