As I begin to write this article, I can still hear the humming of helicopter blades as police make their rounds. They are continuing their patrol of the skies surrounding the campus of University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). Many students are still stuck on campus, sitting in locked rooms, awaiting evacuation.
April 30th, 2019 was the last day of classes. It should have been a celebration, marked by the end of the semester and a budding of excitement for the summer ahead. Instead, it was marked by tragedy, grief, and biting questions: “How could this have happened here?,” “How do we move forward?,” “Are we still safe?,” “Where is God?”
As members of our Mercy family gathered to pray over UNCC students and their campus last night, one of our pastors offered the answer to this last question in Psalm 94.
‘He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge–
the Lord– knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.
For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
For justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.’
Verses 8-11, 14-15
God is in the thick of this with us. He hears us and he sees us. He knows what happened yesterday, and has promised to neither forsake nor abandon us in the midst of pain, sorrow, and confusion.
In verse 19, the psalmist writes, “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” What are the consolations of the Lord that can bring cheerfulness at such a time as this? God has sent his best for us all. He has sent Christ, who has made us “alive together with him… canceling the record of debt that stood against us… This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:13-15).
Christ has cleared away the enemies of sin and death for those who have repented and believe in him. Church, as we reflect on and process the events of yesterday, we must be moved to compassion. We are the hands and feet of our victorious Christ, so let’s act like it. Let’s mourn with those who are hurting at UNCC, meeting real needs and loving sacrificially. Let’s intercede in prayer for UNCC’s campus because the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Let’s proclaim the living and triumphant hope we have in Christ, the only hope that is able to shine light into the most evil darkness and not be overcome.