On Monday morning the Nashville community was turned upside down as we witnessed the horror at The Covenant School, a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church. Many of you know that this church is a part of our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America.
Our hearts break for the victims’ families that are understandably grieving and shocked. We stand with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as they deal with this tragedy, including Senior Pastor Chad Scruggs who lost his nine-year-old daughter. Shortly after the shooting he shared these words expressing his hope in the gospel, “Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life again.”
I reached out to Pastor Chad on Tuesday morning to share that we stand with him and the Covenant community in the days and months ahead. We have been in touch with other pastors in that region regarding ways CRPC can serve this congregation. We will keep you informed as the needs arise.
Our nation is scrambling and searching for answers in order to make sense of it all. The mainstream media was quick to offer their narrative and even direct blame. Politicians will present a myriad of solutions. Unfortunately, nothing our world has to offer will be conclusive or offer any lasting hope. Fortunately, the Church does have the answer amid the chaos.
Many will ask the question, “Where is God?” The truth is that God is not only fully aware of the situation but has sent his son into the world for this very reason—to bring redemption and restoration to a lost and dying world. The tragedy in Nashville is another sobering reminder of the cosmic ruin of sin. It is this world that Jesus entered 2000 years ago. His mission was nothing short of bringing life out of death – the resurrection of people, places, and things.
Only Christianity offers a God who cares about suffering because only Christianity has a God who experienced the ultimate suffering by laying down his life in our place. Jesus not only models how to respond to death and suffering but takes the tragedy of death and suffering upon himself.
As the people of God, we need to pray for two things in particular:
Pray that the reality of God’s presence would comfort these grieving families. Jesus is present in the valleys and storms of this life. May his divine tears overwhelm them with peace. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18.
Pray that the Christians throughout this nation would be ready to offer real hope in response to this horrific evil. We alone know the one who conquered sin and death. We alone know the one who is making all things new. We alone know the one who is coming back to wipe every tear from our eyes. This is an important moment for the Church of Jesus Christ to change the narrative and give people the reason for our unwavering assurance in life and death. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:38-39.
Through our tears, may we be reminded of the precious promises of the Gospel for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters at Covenant Presbyterian in Nashville. Even in the midst of grief we can still sing,
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”
For Christ and His Church,
Pastor Rob Pacienza, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale