I was shocked at the Amish communityâ€™s response to Mondayâ€™s shootings. As a believer who truly does trust that God is in control and is just, Iâ€™m bothered that I donâ€™t think my first response would have been to forgive so quickly. The string of recent gruesome shootings across the country has made me evaluate how I sometimes walk down the Bible buffet, picking out the parts of Godâ€™s word that I am comfortable with in the midst of chaos and brokenness. As believers who know what it means to be forgiven of sins that otherwise would have led to death, we are entrusted with the great responsibility to forgive others for their terrible grievances (Colossians 3:12-14).
Unfortunately, there isnâ€™t anything easy about it. Itâ€™s something that can only happen with Godâ€™s help. As fragile humans, we donâ€™t have the capacity to open our hearts without His supernatural power working in us. Iâ€™m reminded of a Prison Fellowship video clip I saw yesterday about a couple ministering to prisoners. They were fully devoted to helping inmates understand the power of Christ to radically change their lives. But then their daughter was raped. Friends asked them, â€œAre you going to stop working for Prison Fellowship?â€ Their response? No. The father said every time he went back into prison from then on to reach out to the same kind of men who raped his daughter, it was healing to his heart. That is amazing. But itâ€™s only something God can do.
The Amish communityâ€™s response teaches us that sin pierces us and breaks us, but if we hold onto bitterness and withhold forgiveness, it only hurts us. There is freedom in releasing our deepest sorrows to the Lord and trusting that while we may not understand, He can free us from pitching back the transgressions committed against us. Just listen to Psalm 34: 17-19:
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;
A passage in Donald Millerâ€™s book Searching for God Knows What has helped me to put the shootings and the heartache of the world into perspective. Miller writes about an television interview he saw between Larry King and Billy Graham shortly after the Columbine High School shootings.
I had read an article the previous month about violent video games and their effects on the minds of children, desensitizing them to the act of killing. Larry King asked Billy Graham what was wrong with the world, and how such a thing a Columbine could happen. I knew, because Billy Graham was an educated man, he had read the same article I had read, and I began calculating his answer for him, that violence begets violence, that we live in a culture desensitized to the beauty of human life and the sanctity of creation. But Billy Graham did not blame video games. Billy Graham looked at Larry King in the eye and said, â€œThousands of years ago, a young couple lived in a garden called Eden, and God placed a tree in the Garden and told them not to eat from the treeâ€¦â€ And I knew in my soul that he was right.
The Amish women, according to their customs, will wear black clothing of mourning. Mothers of the children will wear black for a year. Grandmothers will wear black for six months. Cousins will wear black for six weeks. Truly, they are in mourning. But they have freedom as they grieve. They know that this terrible event is a result of the Fall. They have hope that one day they will become whole in Heaven. They trust that Godâ€™s healing, like a laser of white light into darkened hearts, is already at work.