Rending the Heart

Everybody thinks they know how to fix it.

Just get enough of their guys making the decisions, enough of their rules being enforced, and things would be different.

But it doesn’t work like that.

It’ll never work like that.

There is a sickness here that no one can legislate away. It’s an old sickness, buried deep in the human condition. Isaiah saw it: “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment” (Isaiah 1:5).

The discourse in the United States is going to shift pretty heavily to the gun debate—again. We should have less of them. We should have more of them. We should make them harder to get. We should hand them out to everyone.

We’re missing the point.

Mass shootings are a symptom of the sickness. The guns are small piece of the puzzle. Keep them, take them—that’s not how we fix this. The worst school massacre in United States history happened almost a hundred years ago when a disgruntled farmer used dynamite to murder 38 children and 6 adults.

No guns. Just sickness.

There will always be a way for one human being to inflict suffering on others.

Until we fix the sickness—until we find a way to end the moral depravity that can prompt a disgruntled psychopath to rampage through the world with the intent of causing pain—until we can reform our societies in such a way that we stop producing and incubating these kinds of monsters in the first place—what good will it do to take away some of their tools?

* * *

On Tuesday, Mary and I watched the news of the shooting in Uvalde. We were heartbroken. And angry. And a mess of other emotions.

The death count is at 21 now.

Nineteen children, two adults.

Nineteen kids. Mowed down. Terrified. Confused. Suffering at the hands of a deranged monster who just wanted to see people die.

Nineteen kids whose parents now have to cope with all the “goodnights” they’ll never be able to say, all the little moments and milestones they’ll never get to see unfold, all the heartache and suffering that’s going to flood through the entirety of their being every time they look at an old photo or think back to an old memory.

And my thoughts drift to my daughter. My own little girl. Three years old. The youngest student who died at Uvalde was 8. Not that terribly far apart.

I think about that.

I think about what it would be like if…

And that’s as far as I make it. I can’t handle the process of even trying to imagine. I can feel the waves of terror and anguish waiting around that corner.

I resent what the world is right now. I resent what we as a race have turned it into. I resent, most of all, how Satan has led and deceived us into that act of creation.

The evil isn’t going away. Not yet. Can’t. Won’t. It’s part of us. Something we bring with us as long as we try to live outside of the boundaries God set for us. No human law can change that or take it away.

* * *

The Day of the Lord is a pretty terrifying theme in Scripture. Death and destruction meted out by divine judgment in response to an unswerving pattern of wickedness.

“Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,” says Joel, “for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. … The day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” (Joel 2:1-2, 11).

And yet that’s not the end of the story. “‘Now, therefore,’ says the LORD, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm” (Joel 2:12–13).

Tragedies like Uvalde are heart-rending—but they don’t always get us to rend our hearts. They don’t always get us to look at where we are in relation to where God says we need to be.

As a nation, we’re asking what we need to change about our laws.

Fine. Good. An acceptable question worth considering.

But that won’t do it.

The only thing that will do it is asking what we need to change about ourselves. Our societies. Our values. Our hearts.

One day, we’ll get there. One day, “The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us continue to go and pray before the LORD, and seek the LORD of hosts.’ … In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you'” (Zechariah 8:21, 23).

But not today.

Today, as God’s people, we can only sigh and cry as the sickness is allowed to continue festering and spreading. Wounds and bruises and putrefying sores, ignored and untreated. It’s heartbreaking. And heart-rending.

We have to hold onto what we know is coming—cling to the promise of a better day, taking comfort in the words God gave Habakkuk: “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Until next time,

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