Omar Mateen murdered ruthlessly about 50 people on Sunday morning June 12, 2016. He targeted the LGBTQ community at the gay club Pulse in Orlando, Florida. This massacre is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, killing about twice as many people as Columbine and San Bernardino combined. The Orlando shooting has been called the worst terror attack since September 11. President Obama deemed it an instance of “homegrown terrorism,” saying “[the shooting] is being treated as a terrorist investigation.” The primary motivation for Mateen’s actions is disputed: some say ISIS propaganda inspired him; others claim his frustration with his own sexuality pushed him over the edge; racism has also been postulated as a factor.
Whatever the cause, many people are intensely suffering worldwide because of the Orlando atrocity. A gay Facebook friend of mine who attends the University of Florida insightfully said in a video blog, “Without this tragedy queer, black, and brown people are already living in fear for their lives every single day… And [these] people now will feel even more unsafe than before.” Hate and terror crimes run rampant in the U.S., and their frequency desensitizes the majority to the true degree of horror of these tragedies. Do not turn a blind eye!
Orlando desperately needs prayer. God valued every person who died; he made mankind in his image and each victim was uniquely beautiful and irreplaceable (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 139:13-14). Pray for the suffering who lost loved ones. Pray to the “…God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). God cares for you and for them: He is “an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Pray for the warped and depraved lunatics who think murder glorifies God. Pray that they will recognize their sin and repent unto salvation, for “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32). My heart weeps for Orlando, and my prayers are with you.
The LGBTQ community and Christians both suffer from severe persecution. Today in the Middle East Christians are given an ultimatum by Islamic extremists: Christian homes are marked with a spray-painted Arabic letter (ن), and the inhabitants must choose between conversion to Islam, an exorbitant tax, evacuation, or death. Read more at https://www.i-am-n.com. Jesus warned his followers, “the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God” (John 16:2). But God grants us His divine strength to march dauntlessly through the darkest valleys. “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1). The love of God casts out fear and overcomes evil.
Despite current persecutions, God’s purpose will prevail. The Bible repeatedly demonstrates that God can transform the most abysmal situations into the greatest victories. After Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, he became the savior of a nation, a model of Jesus to come: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). The apostle Paul once persecuted Christians, but God saved him and then wrote half the New Testament through Paul! Moreover, Jesus Christ was crucified, and consequently sinners were offered the gift of eternal life! Surely God will bring good from the evil of the Orlando shooting.
Even during the shooting, many cried out to God. Patience Carter, a survivor, wrote a now famous poem called “The Guilt of Being Alive is Heavy.”She said, “I made peace with God. I said, ‘God, if this is how I have to go, please just take my soul from my body.’ I just wanted to close my eyes and let God take me.” Who knows how many people came to saving faith in Jesus Christ during their final hours? No human knows the fate of another, for there is only one Lawgiver and Judge. Woe to you, Westboro Baptists! My God will deliver those you torment!
God did not cause the Orlando shooting, for there is no sin in him. Omar Mateen did it, but God can bring good from evil: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Jesus is the Healer and Savior of the world.
What would you say to Omar Mateen if he stood before you?
What would Jesus say to him?
PS – To those who challenge the banner picture: Were only your sins nailed to the cross?