Did you hear about the latest shooting at the New Jersey mall? And the shooting attack against TSA agents last week at LAX? We’ve watched violence unfold at everyday places like school, a movie theater, a college campus, a mall, an airport, a shopping center, and a playground. Google these events, and you’ll turn up a list of video games marketed for the realistic experience they offer in gunning down other people. The irony could make you crazy. Or in some cases, it could inspire you to do things like shoot people in real life. How can you find peace for yourself and your family in a violent world?
If we’re honest, most of us would admit to wondering what we would do in such a situation. Would we know what to do to be safe? Could we keep our children safe? Would our faith hold?
Having lived in a city where violence was an everyday possibility, I’ve asked all of these questions. I’ve resolved that until the Lord makes all things new, the world will always have violence. Until the Great Escape, there is no escaping it. I’ve also resolved that women can’t live in fear, though many do, and I feel for them. I want them to know that even in a violent world, there is something you can do to be more prepared today than if you didn’t ask the questions at all.
Here’s what I’ve learned about being prepared for yourself and your loved ones when you live in a violent world. The lessons boil down to two things: what you SEE and what you DON’T SEE.
Shooting for peace and safety
- SEE your exits. When you know violence is possible, you should be aware of your exits. Now we all know it’s possible. Don’t be paranoid (keep reading), but be observant. When you sit down at a theater, stadium, waiting room, or food court … where is your closest exit? I’ve had to use mine before, and you might someday.
- SEE the people around you. Pay attention to people (which we should be doing anyways). So many signs of trouble are obvious if we are aware of our surroundings and the people near us. Learn to be a student of physical characteristics and demeanor. Be observant of people.
- DON’T SEE but trust. Cultivate trust with your family members. A crisis is not a time to teach a child to obey without arguing. You’d better have covered that at home. Family members who have a culture of trusting and respecting one another are more likely to help each other in a time of crisis. I’ve lived it, and I know.
- DON’T SEE but trust. People (and, I believe, women in particular) have a tendency to want to dig in and defend themselves, depending on … themselves. But sin in the world makes us vulnerable. All of us. Ultimately, our greatest hope, our best defense, our sure foundation, is to put our faith in God. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1). This doesn’t mean events will unfold without pain or distress, but it means we can find peace in the midst of evil. We can feel held and loved in the face of crisis.
In this violent world where a shooting is frequent on the daily news, we can prepare ourselves and our families. Our families not only need to be kept physically safe, but they need to be given a shield of faith. It all boils down to what we see and what we don’t.
We trust the unseen person of Almighty God with the seen threats of a violent world. And in that, sweet friends, we find peace.