On this, the morning after the terrible shootings in Tucson, Arizona, many of us rise with thoughts of sympathy and compassion for the victims, of sorrow and support for their families, and prayers for healing for those for whom the scars of that morning’s events will forever be carried in their bodies, hearts, and souls. I know that my first thought was to check the news, to hope for even a slight improvement in Gabby Gifford’s condition, and then to pray for all of the shooting victims, and I’m sure that many of you did the same. For those who died, I pray that they came to the knowledge of the astonishing power of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus before their lives were snatched away so unexpectedly.
But there are others who need our prayers just as much – those who perpetrated this tragedy and their families. Prayers of support for the families, and prayers for repentence and for the knowledge of the One who has filled the hearts of so many throughout history with the incomparable love of Christ Jesus for the perpetrators. “For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6), “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) For the man whose heart has been infected by hate, there is but one cure, the man Christ Jesus. For the man who has said “No, I won’t trust in God”, his path will undoubtedly bring him to a point where he has little other choice. I pray that God touch this man’s heart and mind so that he may come to a knowledge of and a belief in Jesus, for as James 4:14 says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” And for the man who dies unsaved, the Bible is quite clear about their fate, and that fate is forever.
For those of you who cannot seem to find it in yourselves to do what we are commanded to do in Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”, please keep in mind the next verse: “But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.” Jesus said to pray for our enemies, because if we just pray for our friends or those who are beloved, how does that make us different from the unsaved? I cannot even begin to imagine the Satanically-inspired deranged and hate-filled thoughts and feelings this man has, but I do know one thing – this man needs Jesus!
I also know that there are those who believe that this man cannot be saved, that he’s not worth the effort, that he never will repent. But the Bible is also quite clear about that, too – even the worst of mankind can be saved! I’m sure we have all read the story of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, and how he became a strong leader in the early Church, but the Bible also tells us about the man who Paul was before his conversion, in chapter 9 of the book of Acts. “Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them–both men and women–back to Jerusalem in chains.” But after his conversion, Barnabas said of Paul, “He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.” A more dramatic conversion, from murderer of the followers of Jesus to one of them and even teaching the other followers, I can’t imagine! I cannot say what God has in store for this man’s life should he be saved, but I know that whatever it is, it’s far, far better than the alternative.
Pray for those who have fallen, pray for those who may yet recover, but also pray for those who senselessly killed and injured on that day, that they may all come to the salvation, love, and grace of our Lord Christ Jesus.
The victims who died:
9-year-old Christina Taylor Green
30-year-old Gabe Zimmerman, a Giffords staffer who was engaged to be married
63-year-old Chief Judge John Roll of the U.S. District Court for Arizona
76-year-old Dorwin Stoddard, who was fatally shot in the head while trying to shield his wife
76-year-old Dorothy Morris
79-year-old Phyllis Scheck.