The Orlando massacre brought it home again to Americans: one evil person can kill a lot of people. It is so sad. I weep with the families.
The more recent U. S. massacres have taken place in: night clubs, cinemas, schools, a government center for people with needs, a church, and on military bases and recruitment centers.
People are fearful. Where next? What are we supposed to do to protect ourselves? Are we safe anywhere?
I live overseas, and we often get notices from the U. S. Embassy that tell us to be very careful about going to events where there are a lot of people, popular tourist spots, places where people congregate, etc.
So, should we avoid sports events, church, going out to restaurants, etc.? Do we hole up and take cover?
Think back to the attacks in Paris. They were in multiple venues: street cafés and restaurants, a sports arena, and a nightclub. Is it risking your life to drink coffee at a café or go to a soccer game?
How can we avoid being a target?
The precious little children at the Sandy Hook only went to school. The college students and teachers at Virginia Tech. were only studying. The people at the center in California were doing their jobs.
Do we avoid living?
Do we avoid living?
I personally don’t go to nightclubs and never have (because I’m a Christian and that’s not consistent with what I believe pleases God). But, when I think of all of those murdered in Bali, Paris, and Orlando, my heart breaks for the loss of life. Most of the victims were young people trying to have a good time. Many parents are grieving today. It’s beyond sad.
So, what can you do to keep from being a soft target?
For Christians, here are four biblical concepts:
- Do what honors God. This means living your life to glorify Him. For most families, that means buying groceries, participating in healthy functions, and going to church regularly. It means being out with friends and family, having a social life, and sharing Christ. For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a).
- Acknowledge God’s sovereignty. The Lord knows where you are and what you’re doing. He is never taken by surprise, and He is everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do for a living; God is always aware of you. Nothing will happen to you without His knowledge or permission. Your date of death is in His hands. Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling? (Job 7:1) The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever (Psalm 37:18).
- Be completely committed to Christ, so that if you live or die, your life will glorify Him. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's (Romans 14:8). I think of the lovely testimony of those who died in the Charleston shooting and their relatives afterwards. God was glorified in life and death.
- Don’t live in fear. Some people count 365 “fear nots” and “do not be afraids” in the Bible. (However you count them, there are many!) God doesn’t want us to fear. He wants us to trust in Him. What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me (Psalm 56:3-4).
And, some practical advice:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Be watchful when you’re out in public. If anything seems suspicious, move away, and if necessary, report what you’ve observed to security.
- If you hear gunshots, run away if you possibly can. If you can't run, shelter as fast as you can. Get behind something or under something, and stay quiet. If you can, phone 911 (or the emergency number in your area). Even if you’re not able to speak, emergency responders will see your call and location.
No matter where you live in the world, there are good people and bad people. A few individuals in any society are unstable and evil enough to kill.
If we acknowledge that God is in control, and He knows where we are, we can rest in Him. It’s for us to be vigilant, wise, and to do whatever we can in any life situation.
So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.