Josh Medlock, Director of Student Ministries
Two hundred thirteen.
Two hundred thirteen mass shootings have taken place in the United States (gunviolencearchive.org) as of Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
A mass shooting is classified as any shooting where four or more individuals are killed during one event in one or multiple locations.
This means that as I sit at my desk on Wednesday, at least 452 individuals have lost their lives in mass shootings.
Twenty-one of those lives were lost on Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
I am a father of two children. One who is 16-years old and the other is 13-years old.
I cannot comprehend the emotional turmoil that a parent goes through if they lose their child in this manner.
I do not dare to let my heart imagine the suffering and anguish that a parent feels when they lose their child.
If I do, I become inconsolable. I become consumed with anger and frustration because these things are preventable.
Did you know that according to worldpopulationreview.com, there have been 288 school shootings in the United States?
In comparison, there have only been 44 school shootings in all other countries combined.
How is this possible? Why is this happening? Where are we failing?
I will not stand on a soapbox and make this political. This is not about politics.
This is about a crisis. A REAL crisis.
Our fathers and mothers, our aunts and uncles, our nieces and nephews, our brothers and sisters, our friends, our neighbors, our spouses and our children are dying … and it is preventable.
The negative stigma surrounding mental health is still very much an issue today.
Individuals who commit these acts are not okay. Something is going on in their lives that leads them down a road ultimately terminated in death.
In many cases there are signs that are missed by those who are around them.
In many cases they did not tell anyone they weren’t okay.
We as a people have to push for awareness and make sure everyone knows it is okay to not be okay.
See something, say something.
If you think something is not right, it is better to ask and say something and everything actually be okay than to say nothing and something tragic happens.
We all have a part. We all are empowered to do something.
Be brave and courageous, be willing to be vulnerable.
Ask for help. Ask if everything is okay.
It is one of ways that change can happen.
These things are preventable.
During times like this, when I am filled with anger and frustration, I struggle to hear what God is calling me to do because I want justice, and I want it right now.
I want change, and I want it right now.
I am sad. I am angry. I am frustrated.
I do not want to live in fear that my children may not come home.
I weep. I mourn. I hurt.
And God weeps with me.
This was not the plan. This is not what God envisioned for us.
But here we are. And God is with us also.
Even if we cannot see or hear God’s voice. Even if we cannot feel God’s presence.
God is still with us, and will remain so.
We are told in scripture that God is always with us, and nothing will ever separate us from that great and abundant love.
We are also told that life will present us with toil and turmoil, despair and death.
The challenge we all face every day is leaning into the love that God has for us and patiently waiting to hear the voice and feel the presence that we long for.
My spirit aches, and my heart is broken.
So all I can do today is pray.
Pray that my anger will turn to compassion.
Pray that my frustration will turn to action.
Pray that my sorrow will turn to hope.
Pray that my fear will turn to courage.
Pray that the families of these children and adults will find comfort and strength in the abundance of God’s love.
Pray that they be surrounded by those who will carry them, mourn with them.
Pray for the face of God to shine upon them.
Two hundred thirteen.
Pray we can change this number.
May the peace and love of God be with each of you this day.