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When God Grieves
Genesis 6:5-7, 11-13a
Rev. Laura Brewster
One of the more familiar stories in the Bible is the story of Noah and the great flood. When we read this story, we often skip past the reason that the Bible offers for what happened. Today’s scripture reading deals with the question of why – why God who created humanity and once delighted in humanity eventually moved to wipe out humanity. Read Genesis 6:5-7, 11-13a. Note that God grieved when he saw the violence humans committed against each other.
Violence Which Grieves God Today
On average, 100 people are killed in the U.S. every day by a gun. That is an average of 36,383 deaths due to shootings every year. This includes murders and suicides. Gun violence has become all too prolific. Surely God grieves as he notes the violence.
Why Do These Things Happen?
Why do these things happen? The basic reason is that God allows us to make choices regarding how we treat others, and humans often treat each other in hurtful and harmful ways. We call that sin. Some sins are acts of commission. Persons who commit mass shootings are committing sins of commission. But some sins are sins of omission. Sins of omission are those times when we can show love, but refuse to do so. So, for example, if I truly love those who are being hurt by gun violence, and God nudges me to push for a change, but I refuse to do so, I am sinning by omission.
Don’t Be Surprised If God Asks You to Act
After every tragic event involving guns, we offer our thoughts and prayers. We pray for God to console the victims, and we pray for God to stop senseless violence. However, we would do well to remember that God often acts in the world in partnership with his people. After God resolved to wash away the violence he had seen in the world, he turned to a man named Noah and gave him the responsibility of helping to repopulated the devastated area with other humans and animal life. (6:20-21) So again, if you are praying for God to act, don’t be surprised if God nudges you to be a part of the action because God’s most common way of working in the world is that of working through his people.
There is no one answer to the problem of gun violence. We cannot stop it all. There are, though, a few steps we can take to help lessen the impact of gun violence on our neighbors. First, advocate for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Second, ask Congress to pass “red flag” laws, which would allow police or family to petition for the temporary removal of firearms from a person if they deem them a danger to themselves or others. Third, ask Congress to fund gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fourth, push Congress to enact universal background checks on gun buyers.
Don’t Lose Hope
How do we maintain hope when we advocate for change but little seems to change? We remember that evil will not have the last word. God is at work in our world seeking to bring good out of evil. Romans 8:28 tells us, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” God is at work in the world, and God is at work for you and through you too.