The city beautiful has become the city broken. Never has any city in America seen what we have seen in the last 5 days. Singer Christina Grimmie was killed after a concert at the Plaza Live Friday night. The gunman killed himself after shooting her. A terrorist filled with hate walked into the LGBT Pulse nightclub at 2 am and murdered 49 people. The worst shooting in US history. Then Tuesday night, a 2 year old boy on vacation with his family at Disney World was taken to his death by an alligator. We are all so broken right now.
My heart was drawn to these words of Scripture: “How lonely sits the city that was full of people . . . She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears are on her cheeks; She has none to comfort her. . . Is this the city that is called, ‘The perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth’?” (Lamentations 1:1-2, 2:15).
These overwhelming days have caused me to pray and reflect with such intensity. My thoughts have centered around these three words:
1) Grief – Solomon said that there is a time to weep and a time to mourn and that time is now. These attacks were against everyone in our city. This brutality was committed just steps from where we work and live. These precious souls once walked among us and lived among us. The victims were also all young. A wave of grief has washed into our hearts and like Jerusalem, no one here can comfort us. We have prayed together, met together, and talked with each other but only the God of all comfort can ease the pain of the families and folks in our city. So we grieve and we look to God.
2) Gratitude – I am humbled by the response of the people of Orlando. The law enforcement of this city, our mayors, our government officials, our medical professionals, and our emergency response teams have displayed an extreme level of expertise, professionalism, and love in the most excruciating circumstances. It makes me proud to be a part of this great community. Mike Vidal, one of our pastors, is a Chaplain for the Orlando Police Department. He led our church to pray for these dear ministers of God last night. He told us that more than 400 met with a counseling and recovery team yesterday. Our city is a special place. The world comes here for joy, life, and love. These brave men and women from every walk of life have banded together to keep this city “The City Beautiful.” These make our community the greatest place to live in all the world. Thank you to all of them. They risk their lives to save our lives.
3) Growth – My heart has grown through these tragic days. I have grown in understanding of the pain our LGBT community members feel as it relates to the churches. They need more love from all of us. I have grown in understanding for the Muslims living in our city. They feel such pain and often feel disliked or even blamed. Tragedy does not change things as much as it reveals them. Our city needs greater unity and the church should be the leader. I have also grown to realize acutely that our city needs God. Our city can not find comfort in the attractions, the beauty of Central Florida, or even the amazing community. Our city needs God as Comforter. The little “g” gods of this city will not suffice during these days. I am praying that through His comfort, many will meet Christ as Lord and Savior and find an ever present help in times of trouble. The God who will never leave you nor forsake you. The God who has conquered death and given meaning to every life.
May we all grieve, express gratitude, and grow during these days.