Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
We say those words when we don’t know what to say or do.
What do the words really mean? Do they really mean anything?
Not to some people.
On Wednesday, at least 14 people were killed in San Bernadino, CA when two people went on a shooting rampage.
Presidential candidates tweeted their “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and first responders, which angered some.
The New York Daily News posted their tweets next to this front page headline:
GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.
Some are calling it prayer shaming.
The shame isn’t that the politicians offer prayers.
The shame is that the politicians have the power to do more than pray and they haven’t.
We’re all tired of the shootings.
Some were instantly outraged at the newest shooting. Before we knew who fired the bullets or why or where they got the guns, some called for stronger gun control legislation to stop the chaos.
Others were simply numb.
Here’s how I found out about the shooting. I turned on the radio to listen to Christmas carols and heard the announcer say, “The shooting of the day is in San Bernadino…”
The shooting of the day.
That’s what it has come down to. The shooting of the day, as if we’re announcing the weather forecast.
I don’t know the solution to ending the gun violence, but I do believe it involves two parts: the guns and the people holding them.
Any solution must address both the guns and the people who want to kill people.
It’s been said that hurt people hurt people. There is something deeply wrong inside anyone who wants to kill another person.
How do we fix that? I don’t know, but I do believe prayer is part of the solution.
Here’s the thing about prayer, the part we often miss.
Prayer isn’t just our chance to tell God what we need.
It’s our chance to listen to what God needs from us.
It’s our chance to place ourselves humbly before God and ask, “What would You have me do or be here?”
Listen past the noise. Listen past the anger. Listen past the grief. Listen and keep listening for the quiet, still voice of peace in your own soul that will give you your perfect clarity.
There isn’t one answer that we will all hear.
Some will be called to take action against guns and the NRA.
Some will be called to pray.
Some will be called to work harder to love and repair the hurt people who hurt people.
Until we hear that clarity, there is nothing wrong with saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
Some of us say it because we still believe in the power of prayer to change hearts and transform this world.