Life is a precious gift from God, but we do not always or even often treat it with the respect and dignity it deserves. The recent shootings of two black males by police officers in Baton Rouge, Lousiana and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and the killing of five police officers and wounding of seven more in Dallas, Texas cause us to grieve, to ask questions, to wonder about the sanity of our nation. Let it also cause us to pause in prayer, to consider the life lessons we are teaching our children and grandchildren, and to look deeply inside ourselves to see what emotions and beliefs are hidden in the dark corners of our hearts.

It is true that we do not have all the facts, thus we should not recklessly jump to conclusions. It is also true that the lives of real people came to an abrupt end yesterday. These things can make us bitter. They can drive us apart. They can cause us to pick sides and distort truth to fit our particular perspective. We must fight against our basest instincts. We must be willing to listen and hear those whose life and experiences are unlike ours.

I choose not to live in fear and distrust. It is a risk, to be sure, but it is a risk that I believe is worth taking. Not every young black man is a thug. Not every white police officer is a racist. These are extreme subsets, but they have been magnified and amplified in a way that many believe them to be the norm.

We can be better than this. We must be better than this. We do not have to be a nation splintered by our differences. We do not have to be a nation on edge. “One Nation under God” is a worthy ideal deserving our supreme effort, but this nation will not be changed by chanting idealistic statements; it will be changed through prayer, through compassion, through truth. We cannot expect the secular world to lead the way. People of God, this is our task. Let us not grow weary in doing good.

May the Lord comfort the grieving, and may He lead us to shine like stars in the darkness.

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