A gunman armed with a shotgun killed 12 people and injured eight others at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. on Monday morning, before being killed by police. The suspect, a civilian subcontractor working at the military facility, had a history of mental problems and arrests, but still passed the background checks needed to gain access to the Navy Yard. In the wake of the shooting, a national discussion has arisen about whether security at US military facilities needs to be tighter.
How can we respond to news of a tragic shooting like this? One way is to pray: to affirm that God’s protection can’t be absent, that violent motives don’t have to have the final say, and that divine Love is nurturing and comforting everyone affected by this incident.
One place to begin our prayers is with the article “Clarity about God when innocents are killed,” which was written after a series of shootings last fall. It reminds us that we shouldn’t be soft on evil, and should expose and denounce violent motives wherever they may appear — but that we also don’t need to accept the ascendance of evil or the finality of death. “My Christian conviction of the eternality of life and the resurrecting power of the Christ,” writes the author, “... makes me want to defend the continuity of the individual’s life, even though it is hard for me to see it.”
In “Unshattered safety,” an author shares how she prayed when a shooting took place right outside her window. Her insights into the continuity of God’s care — at all times, and for every single one of us — will be comforting to everyone who’s ever wondered whether a loving God could permit evil acts to take place in any part of the world.
Finally, you might like “Choose love instead of hate,” an account from a high-schooler who felt “afraid and hopeless” after hearing news of school shootings and other atrocities in the world today. She found that guarding against hate and anger in her own thoughts made a difference in how she perceived the world, and she discovered that a sense of humility — and an awareness of others’ inviolable spiritual identity — can help us to open our thinking to God’s guiding, comforting, sustaining messages.
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