Early Sunday morning, a man stepped into an Orlando night club and gunned down over a hundred fellow human beings.
To date, forty-nine of them have died.
No matter how many details emerge about the shooter or his motives, we know that they cannot help us cope with this tragedy. The shocking loss of life has ripped open the heart of our country, and left us all reeling with questions.
Why did this happen?
What could have stopped it?
How can friends and family cope with such unbearable loss?
The questions that fill our minds in times like these are natural and reasonable. Yet as we ask them, we ought not do it alone. This is a time for walls to come down and doors to be opened for conversation. Yet, while we speak with one another, it must also be a time for us to look up and ask, “what would Jesus say to us at a time like this?”
Does God see what has happened? Does He care? Where was He while this wicked man murdered so many people who had done him no harm?
What would Jesus say to us after the tragedy in Orlando?
1. Jesus says, “I weep with you.”
God was not absent when the gunman went on his rampage. He sees murder in the heart of oppressors (Genesis 4:6-7) and vows to avenge it (Nahum 3:1-6). He hears when the blood of the innocent cries out to Him from the ground (Genesis 4:10).
God is not only aware of murder, but He also weeps over it. God is moved by tender compassion for people when they are struck down by evil people (Exodus 3:7; Psalm 106:44). Jesus showed this sort of compassion throughout His ministry as He wept with friends next to the graves of loved ones (John 11:35).
Jesus created each of the people who died inside that nightclub (John 1:3). He knit them together in the wombs of their now weeping mothers (Psalm 139:13-14). He created them to be image bearers of His glory (Genesis 1:26-28). God has loved and cared for them every day of their lives (Matthew 5:45) and now, He reassures us who remain that we do not weep alone—He weeps with us.
2. Jesus says, “I will help you.”
The sorrow the shooter has laid upon so many is staggering. Tears have run dry and have left behind hearts filled with disbelief, fear, and anger. Many are blessed to have good friends to help them in their dark days, but even those friends will lack ultimate answers.
Yet, the Lord speaks into our pain and says to His people, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). God has ultimately shown this kind of helping love by sending His Son Jesus to rescue us from our sin, and if He has done this, we can trust Him all the more to help us now (Romans 8:32).
So dear family member who prepares to bury your loved one, hear this, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
Grieving friend who is left reeling with sorrow, know this, the Lord “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
News watcher who feels your heart breaking with those whom you don’t know, find help in this promise, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8).
Look to Jesus, He offers broken hearts the help they need, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
3. Jesus says, “I warn you.”
While some might find it cruel to speak strong words in such a time as this, we see that Jesus does not think so. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus speaks to a crowd after an eerily similar string of tragedies in the city of Galilee.
Pilate (who ended up ordering Jesus’ execution) had murdered Jewish worshippers while they were offering sacrifices to their God. After hearing the news, Jesus said to them, “do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
To those who find comfort in pointing out the fact that the victims of this tragedy were gay party-goers who have received the judgment of God, hear what Jesus says to you. Be warned that it is dangerous for you to spend time looking down on others to the detriment of looking at your own perilous position. Jesus promises that unless you repent, you will likewise perish.
To the many more who weep and mourn over those who have fallen, we must hear what Jesus says to us as well. Jesus speaks to people who have witnessed a tragic mass murder at the hands of an evil man and says to them that there is a lesson for their grieving hearts. What is that lesson? We must all realize that one day, it will be us who people weep over. We certainly pray that our end will not be as tragic as the forty-nine fallen in Orlando, yet Jesus says that during such tragedies, we must examine ourselves.
There are many ways that the fallen will be remembered and their lives will echo in meaningful ways. Jesus tells us that one of those ways is that it ought make us pause and examine the brevity of our own lives. They did not suspect that their lives would be so short. They did not know that June 12 would be the day they would leave this earth.
Jesus sees tragic events like Orlando as a time to weep, but also as a time to consider eternal realities and ensure that we are ready to stand before God—because some day we will. Today is the day to consider Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God who died for our sin and rose from the dead to give us life. He calls us all to leave behind our lives of sin and find life in Him (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38, 4:19-20).
Jesus loves us enough to speak into our suffering and warn us to prepare for the day when we too will be laid to rest. Ask Him to help you understand what this means and take time to read through Jesus’ own words about it.
4. Jesus says, “I will soon make all things new.”
We are all weary of the tragedies that seem to continually pound upon us like waves on the sea shore. We must know however that these waves of weariness will not roll forever. Jesus promises that one day soon He will shake the world in judgment and bring all evil into the light. There He will expose all injustices done in His world and remove them from His presence forever.
On that day, pain will no longer prevail for God’s people. Death will be done. Evil will be extinct. Terrorists will be terminated. Justice will reign and mercy will fill the skies of heaven.
God lays before His people the promise of a world that will be emptied of evil and filled with joy. In that land “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’” (Revelation 21:4–5).
This promise is laid before us all and it is for you as well, if you will only receive it by faith.
In the wake of one of our nation’s most anguishing events, we must know that we are not left alone. This kind of deadly tragedy must move us to listen to one another’s stories and weep with one another. But it must also move us to turn the ear of our heart toward Jesus and hear His life-giving words.