Being someone who doesn't watch the news, I only heard about the Orlando shooting through talk at church. The details were still a little big jumbled, but the main thing I knew was that people had been killed by some extremist at a LBGT club. My first response was, I'm ashamed to say, smugness. Since I consider homosexuality be a great sin against God, I wasn't terribly broken up about all those who died. At one point I said, "I don't really care that this happened at a gay club. Rather there than anywhere else." I joked around with people about it and laughed it off like it was nothing. I had no sympathy for those involved. I almost felt that this was what they deserved.
I kept thinking about why my reaction was so drastically different in comparison to Sandy Hook or 9/11. Was it because I didn't hear it straight from the news? Were the opinions of others getting in the way of my own opinion? Was it because I'm against homosexuality? I believe it was the latter of the three. My hatred towards their sin overtook my ability to feel sorrow for all those involved and their families. Then, I started to think, "Am I going about this the right way? Am I acting how Christ would?" I wasn't.
My heart did a complete one-hundred and eighty degree turn. Guilt consumed me as I started to reevaluate my response to this horrific event. As I sat in the night service at church, Bible verses swam through my mind, making me feel horrible about how I had responded to the Orlando shooting. Now, I have finally come to a conclusion about what a Christian response would be to an event of this magnitude.
Here's what I came up with:
Just like the person living down the street for me or a coworker, these people are my neighbors. God calls me to love my neighbors just as I love myself (Mark 12:31). My initial response was vengeful and full of hate, a result of my selfish and sinful nature. This is the absolute opposite of love. Just like any other sinner, they deserve to be shown the love of God and godly compassion.
Prayer is very important right now. I pray, therefore I care, and vice versa. Just as Jesus prayed for the wicked men while on the cross (Luke 23:34), I am called to pray for those who were injured in the Orlando shooting, for those who lost loved ones, and for those who still feel hatred for the shooter, for those shot, and for those who planned the whole thing, regardless if they are believers or not. How often do I pray for ISIS, North Korea, the homosexuals I don't agree with? Regardless of who they are, everyone needs to be prayed for (I Timothy 2:1). And God will listen to the requests I have because that's what my Father does (Philippians 4:6).
I pray that they receive the comfort that only God can bestow on their hearts. Earthly comfort isn't enough to grasp true peace. God's love is the only way to comfort.
I pray that they see the error in their ways and repent. If God sees fit, He will send the Holy Spirit into their hearts, causing them to repent for their sinful actions. So in the end, they don't know that I am praying for them, but, God willing, the fruits of my prayers will be seen through a repentant spirit and true comfort.
From my perspective as a Christian, I can see that God gave His judgement upon those people in the club, just like he does with any unrepentant sinner. So, without a doubt, this was all in His plan. Right now, no one might be able to see the good that will come from it, but God saw fit to have this happen for some perfect purpose.