Sadly, another school day has turned into a horrific scene of senseless violence. Two young lives were taken, and many other innocent lives were altered in an instant. Our hearts and prayers go out to those experiencing such senseless trauma and devastating loss.
Disbelief and shock certainly describe the emotions many felt when we heard the news of the shooting at Marshall County High School. It is, indeed, a tragedy for this western Kentucky town, our state, and our nation. And, it is deeply disturbing to realize a horrific incident occurred so close to home—and seemingly could happen anywhere. It is alarming how our society is becoming more and more dangerous for people in places we used to think were relatively safe.
Local pastors and churches quickly opened their doors to students and the community by hosting special prayer gatherings. What people seek in difficult times is a word of comfort and hope, to be reminded, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower” and that the righteous can run to it and find safety (Prov. 18:10). They long for encouragement: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you: I will help you …” (Isaiah 41:10).
We’re calling our churches to intercede for our brothers and sisters in Benton and urging all Kentucky Baptists to find ways to show support to Zion’s Cause and Bethlehem Baptist churches. Pray for God’s comfort and healing to pour out on the grieving families and on the students who are wounded. Pray for God to grant His mercy and for hope to shine through these churches to the teachers and students, and to the community and its first responders.
After the shooting at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Texas, Pastor Al Meredith told how his church was inundated with more than 20,000 cards and letters and 13,000 emails. “What we did for a month afterwards, we wallpapered our hallways with these cards and letters,” Meredith recalled. “When we walked in, we felt the presence and the prayers of the body of Christ around the world.” What a marvelous thought! Let’s wallpaper some hallways in Benton. Encourage these churches and the school by writing a letter, note or email—some kind of response—just to tell them, “Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
We don’t know why tragedies like this happen, except that we live in a fallen and broken world inhabited by a hurting humanity that is desperately in need of God’s love. But we do know we have the answer: the hope found through Jesus Christ. We know, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in (times of) trouble” (Psalm 46:1). And, we also know the Father loves us, grieves with us, and feels our pain and loss, for “the LORD is near the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18.)