America witnessed one of our saddest days this week when nine innocent people were gunned down while attending a Wednesday night Bible study at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. There are few events in my lifetime that brought me the profound level of sadness, grief and devastation as this senseless act in Charleston. Unfortunately innocent people lose their lives everyday in our country, but when acts of violence take place in a school, or house of worship, it’s about as gut wrenching as it gets. Watching the news coverage on the Charleston shootings made me reflect back on three other horrific events that occurred in recent memory: The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, 9/11 and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that claimed the lives of so many innocent children and their teachers in December of 2012.
How do you make sense of events like these? The short answer is that you can’t. However, I do believe that God can take even the most horrible and sad situations and use them in a positive way. One of the most amazing displays of grace and forgiveness was shown when the families of the shooting victims actually forgave the murderer just two days after losing their loved ones! The first time they get the chance to look at the killer and directly address him, many people actually forgave him for his terrible act.
How do we explain this inhuman reaction to an inhumane act? There’s only 1 explanation: God. One must have outer worldly grace, compassion and peace to be able to address the killer of their loved ones in this way. We need look no further than Philippians 4, verse 7, which says “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The men and women who lost their lives this past week were by all accounts wonderful human beings. They were pillars in Charleston who served their church and community with kindness, compassion and humility. That fateful night they demonstrated this same level of kindness, compassion and humanity to a complete stranger, who sat among them in the Bible study for almost an hour before he decided to gun them down. The nine victims will be greatly missed by those in their church and the Charleston community.
The family members showed that they, too, possess the same level of compassion, grace and kindness that only God can bring. If God can deliver them in a time such as this, then surely He will deliver you from whatever difficult circumstances you or a loved one may be experiencing. Make a commitment to God on behalf of the memory of these fine men and women that you will always place Him first in your life. For it is only through God that we will ever be able to experience this same level of grace, humility and care for each other. I can think of no greater gift you can give yourself and your children then demonstrating a peace that surpasses all understanding. This is truly what the world witnessed this week in Charleston.