We tend to think that when tragedy hits, the unquestionable solution is to get on our knees and pray.
And once we get off our knees, we have done our part. Haven’t we?
No, we haven’t. At least not all of it.
In response to the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, it is time we reconsider how our faith reflects in our service.
To go to the Lord immediately in times of hurt and confusion will never be a vice. To step in and ask for healing or guidance on any scale, from yourself to the nation, should be encouraged vigorously among believers.
However, too often we stop too soon.
I think there is belief deep within us that faith and action are mutually exclusive. Service comes forth in either prayer or in works, but rarely both.
We may pray for the victims of crime, mass shootings, or war, but we may not serve them. We may not take action, because that would be overstepping our roles. Or maybe it would be violating the space created for victims and their families to mourn, but nonetheless, it is seen as inappropriate.
I wholeheartedly agree with our knees hitting the floor in times of tragedy. The Holy Spirit heals and moves in ways incomprehensible to us, and it is not to be taken lightly how much work He can do for those suffering.
However, as we lift up those in need through prayer, it is just as critical that we lift them up in our works.
Jesus not only prayed; Jesus not only entreated the Father on our behalf; Jesus not only wept and mourned with His friends; Jesus worked.
When those in need approached Him, He healed; He served; He fed; He gave. There was no time to give space, process emotions, plan procedures. When people grieved, He responded.
In our daily race to be more like Christ, considering how we can tangibly serve those suffering from tragedy is just as important as interceding for them in prayer. We cannot stop with faith—we must follow with action.
James warns us that without works, our faith is dead. When belief resides, service overflows. In times like these, where students and teachers die, others are left injured, and even more traumatized, it is our duty to do more than pray. It is our duty to do.
It is not always that we stop too soon. When a hurricane comes, we do not fail to send aid. When survivors lay wounded, we do not hesitate to donate blood.
And yet with issues like school shooting, we merely decide to pray for comfort—to be sensitive—and then eventually slip back into our comfort zones and forget about the matter.
When matters remain sensitive—when it means changing laws or having uncomfortable conversations—we stop short. When partisanship prevails, our faith stays quiet.
This is not a call to ban guns or upheave all our current legislation, amendments, or tradition regarding them. This is a call to take a closer look at your heart, at the situation, and to do something.
Maybe it is participating in activism or what you believe, writing your Congressman or joining a march. Maybe it is just becoming informed on issues and demands. If you want to start serving the hurting and oppressed, the first step is to start listening to them.
It isn’t just about gun laws. This is a complicated issue, and each person’s response will look differently. Mental health awareness, learning to recognize warning signs among potential shooters, and understanding our own desensitization to violence are all options for Christians looking to partner in action.
But it is time we stop saying we can’t do anything for those hurting until they are given time to mourn. Mourn with them and help them heal, by working with them and for them in love.