Do the Math

Psalm 33:5 -The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

A wise leader recently told me to always do the math. He was talking specifically about leading through change, but I think it’s a nugget that holds wide application.

When events like the horror that happened in Orlando on Sunday occur, we feel fear and insecurity and it seems as though we are surrounded by hate. But it helps to do the math. While the act of one person filled with hate caused the deaths of 50 people (and to be clear, that is 50 people too many), the number of people who daily choose love over hate is exponentially higher. The number of people seeking peace is vastly higher than those provoking bitterness and dissension.

Lots of people are writing and sharing their thoughts in the aftermath of Orlando, and many of them more eloquently and with greater depth than I am able to in the moment. But for what it’s worth, as I cry, as I get angry, as I process, as I sit with family, friends and people in our church and community, I’m doing the math. And while evil most definitely exists, and hatred is real, the earth is FULL of the unfailing love of God being lived out everyday in the lives of so, so many.

I condemn hate, oppression and injustice in all forms that it presents itself. And my prayer this morning is that I would praise 3x more than I criticize, that I would practice patience far more than I dwell in frustration, and that I would sing loudly about the goodness and love of God so that the voices of hate that are so much fewer, don’t get to be louder.

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3 Comments on “Do the Math

  1. As a parent I arrived home from our cruise to this text “I’m having a hard time digesting this shooting. It definitely comes really close to home. I hope you all know how much I love you.”

    It was from my older son Michael who now lives in Miami. We talked as soon as it was feasible and and he is doing much better than the text would suggest.

    As the father of a gay man who grew up frequenting Pulse, I can tell you that not only do you and I share this sentiment Jenn, my son Michael does as well. The very first thing he wrote on Facebook following this horror was :

    “I do not even know what to say other than that I am completely devastated this morning. Praying for all of the families in Orlando that have been affected by this horrible tragedy. ✌🏼️❤️ God bless them.”

    The next thing he wrote was :

    “Definitely having a difficult time processing all of this. I practically grew up at Pulse. I have complete mental maps of the entire bar and it absolutely was a sanctuary for me on so many levels. I simply can not believe the tragedy that has happened there. As the names come out and I am praying for the families and loved ones of the victims, because that is the only thing I can even think to do…I can’t help but think we need to think long and hard about how we want to react to this tragedy. We are the generation that can end this unnecessary gun violence, homophobia, Islamaphobia, and all around hatred towards our fellow man.”

    If this had happened several years ago, that could have very easily been our son in that nightclub. He knows it and we know it and it is very sobering.

    After some processing, prayer and mourning for the victims and their families, I find I am reacting much more like you, Jenn, and I am frankly surprised. I guess I shouldn’t be because I have seen what God does to fear and anger. I have seen what he does to embittered hearts, in part because I know what He did to mine. I have seen Him work in our AR family. I have seen him work in my family, friends and in so many places and so many hearts.

    Had this happened several years ago, I probably would have focused on some of the angry, bitter voices both in the political and extremely radical religious worlds (and unfortunately this includes some snippets I have heard from people who claim to be Christians and pastors). That focus may have further hardened my heart…but to your point, my math would have been flawed. I would have been adding to the problem instead of multiplying the love.

    I would rather join you in focusing on how I can ensure I criticize less, praise more, sharing God’s love and Grace with everyone I can, in every aspect of my life.

    One final thing I’d like to share with you is that this young gay man who mentioned that he was PRAYING in both of his Facebook posts, had a hardened heart too, after growing up hearing how many of the Christians he encountered felt about him. The fact that his first instinct was to pray, tells me that he has now seen Christians who have convinced him that he need not write all of us off nor (more importantly) write off God. Speaking of math, I hope that is 1 millionth as powerful and convicting to all of you as it is to his earthly father.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this, John! I am also grateful that your son has encountered Christians who understand that love has no bounds and no limits, and I pray that we can continue to grow and be a community who lives out that love. I am convinced now more than ever that it is time for us to dig in and focus on everything we are “for” – for peace, for love, for grace, for forgiveness, for sacrifice, for each other, and the list goes on and on. Grateful to be journeying with you and with ALL of your family!

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