“Thoughts and Prayers” and Other Troublesome Phrases

thoughts-and-prayers-clipart-1 I have read so much recently about the school shooting in Florida. (I’m sure you have, too.) I think we can all agree that, regardless of ANYTHING else, kids shouldn’t be scared to go to school. In a perfect world, things like this shooting simply don’t happen. THAT it’s horrible is irrefutable. What implications grow out of it, apparently, are a bit more…up for discussion.
Of course, there is the dividing line between those who would want to have greater gun control and those who do not. Not going there here. Then there is the dividing line between whether there is a great, partisan conspiracy behind this event or not. Also, not going there. And there is the dividing line between believers and non-believers. GOING to go there!
Events like this seem to cause people to automatically draw a HARD line in the sand and make the assumption that anybody who doesn’t completely agree with them is fully on the OTHER side of the line. My experience is that the world simply doesn’t work like that. Don’t get me wrong- there ARE people who stand firmly on one side of the line while others stand firmly on the other side. But what gets missed is that a LOT of people straddle the line. Blur the line. Or completely trample the line, erasing it.
I have seen folks post a meme that talks about “God, why did you let this happen in school?” And God’s response is, “I’m not allowed in school.” The implication is twofold: 1. if we “allowed God in school”, none of this would happen and 2. God can only “come in” and intervene if we “allow” it. Otherwise, He is powerless to act. The truth is…neither is true.
We “allow” God in church and church shootings happen. We “allow” God in lots of places where “bad stuff” happens. In fact. There is really NOWHERE that “bad stuff” doesn’t happen. So, I find that half of the equation to be flawed. And I find the other half of the equation to be incredibly egotistical. What would make me think that God needs my permission to go…anywhere?
This sort of thing happens for all sorts of reasons- ALL of which point at human intervention- poor choices by one or more people. The REAL question is, “Why does God allow some tragedies to happen and intervene in others?” While I DON’T believe He CAUSES these things, I cannot argue the reality that He allows them. If I truly believe that He can do anything (and I do), then I have to accept the reality that He could stop whatever He wants from happening, regardless of anything we do or don’t do. So- back to that REAL question. The REAL answer, at least MY real answer is…I don’t know. I have to trust. I have to remind myself that this life, regardless of how short or long…or tragic…it is, is but the blink of an eye in comparison an eternity with Him. Hard to embrace, comforting when you can.
The other thing I’ve noticed is the visceral response “thoughts and prayers” seems to elicit in some. I have read MANY bitter, antagonistic responses to the notion that offering “thoughts and prayers” in a case like this is anything but whistling in the graveyard. In other words, it is a worthless sentiment that means nothing.
I have to assume the phrase is either being offered or received incorrectly- possibly both. When I tell someone, “My thoughts and prayers are with you”, I have no illusion that A. it will somehow turn back time and change what happened or B. would have changed anything had I offered it preemptively. Instead, when I offer my thoughts and prayers, I am acknowledging your loss, your grief, your pain. I’m NOT saying, “I understand”. I’m NOT saying, “If only you believed more…!” I’m NOT saying, “God is like the Easter Bunny- bringing all the girls and boys baskets full of Easter joy”.
I’m saying that my heart is broken for the families who lost children. For the school that may never fully recover. For the community that is shattered. For the nation that struggles to figure out how we got where we are. I’m saying that my prayers are with all those people. I’m saying that I have NO earthly idea why God allows such things to happen. I’m saying God did NOT cause this tragedy- people did. I’m saying I have to trust in the God Who has brought me through more fires than I deserve to survive. I’m saying that, regardless of anything else, I will praise Him in the storm because He was proven, time and time again, that He walks the journey with me.
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

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