I’m noticing a troubling trend with these mass shooting tragedies, like the San Bernadino massacre that happened yesterday. But before I get there, let me first say how heartbreaking it is that we’re experiencing so many mass shootings so often that trends are beginning to emerge.

What I’m starting to see—and I hasten to add that I am just as guilty of this—is that, upon hearing the breaking news of a shooting happening, we wait with baited breath hoping the details that emerge about the shooting will support whatever political, religious or social narratives we currently subscribe to. Its like in the NFL when there is a penalty flag thrown by a referee, each team instantly begins pleading their case, trying to get the officials to rule in their favor. What actually happened on the field has almost nothing to do with the position the players take on the penalty.

That sort of blind loyalty to your own team is relatively harmless in the arena of competitive sports. But when it spills over into reality, especially the arena of horrific tragedies where the stakes are as high as life itself, the potential damage can be devastating. Its dangerously easy to default to whatever platitudes best underscore our pre-existing agendas, whether that’s “We need to allow concealed carry!”, or “We need to ban all guns!”, or “All Muslims are terrorists!”, or “Islam is a religion of peace!”, or “This is the fault of (insert political party here)!”.

That got me thinking; if I were to set aside my own pre-conceived narratives, what is it that I should be hoping and praying for as I’m hearing news of breaking tragedies like yesterday’s events in California? I believe my first thought should be for the victims and their families, praying that Jesus will bring them comfort in their sorrow, that He will give them strength in the days ahead, that He will reveal Himself in the midst of their pain and loss, giving them a sense of love, hope and peace that passes all human understanding.

And I should be praying for our country, that God would ultimately manifest goodness and even beauty out of the ashes of such evil acts, using this grievous event to bind us together as human beings. That He would allow our shared shock and grief to give us a shared human perspective, causing us to unite behind the great cause of Love, making a stand against evil and hatred. And, remembering that I am praying to God Almighty, for Whom nothing is impossible, I should even be asking that this would be the last mass shooting in American history!

I should also be hoping and praying that our political and law enforcement leaders are approaching this event with a sober grasp of what REALLY happened, and what we can REALLY do to prevent future tragedies like this. I hope their actions will not be swayed one way or the other by political expediency or political correctness. Rather, I hope they are focused making their decisions based on reality, logic, and reason with the goal of meting out justice and making us as safe as possible in the future.

I also hope that, no matter what the ideology and motivation of the shooters turns out to be—whether its right-wing Tea Party extremists, left-wing Black Lives Matter revolutionaries, radical Islamic terrorists, or disgruntled employees—that we do not ascribe their loathsome, evil actions to every member of their “tribe”.

No matter what our political or religious persuasion, I believe it’s our sober responsibility to have the courage to call out evil as evil, and as human beings, to stand together against it.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
—Isaiah 5:20