The aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, shooting that killed seventeen last week has been marked by an overwhelming flood of public opinions and finger-pointing.
From gun laws to poor parenting to lack of school security, America has run the gamut of addressing the reasons for the repeated tragedies our nation has faced in recent years.
But Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson is pointing to a much bigger cultural problem that is largely being ignored in these crises:
“Every time there’s an instance like this, something really horrific, we talk about respecting life, and while that’s very important, we have to look at our culture as a whole. We incarcerate our young men at alarming rates, we vote for things that create the disintegration of the family, we murder 60 million of our unborn since Roe v. Wade. We’re a culture that really gravitates toward violence. So while we must hold this young man accountable, we need to step back and say hold on, ‘What are we as parents teaching our children? How are we as teachers dealing with kids when they have certain conflict in the classroom?’ All these things are very important. It’s easy to say that it’s one thing or the other, that it’s guns or it’s a law that needs to be changed. And while that may be the case on a larger aspect, we need to as individuals, as parents, as a community, as a culture identify where we’ve gone wrong and be willing and have the courage to fix it.”
For some reason, we have no problem unifying under God and crying out to Him in prayer during tragedy, yet we fire football coaches for praying with their teams and refuse to allow prayer in the very classrooms where our children’s blood is being shed.
“One thing I’ve always said whenever we have a natural disaster or a hurricane or an earthquake, something like that, or a school shooting–which we’ve had many over the last few months–we always invoke prayer,” said Watson. “We say we wanna send our thoughts and prayers, and that’s very very very important. Don’t get me wrong. We also need actions when it comes to certain laws or whatever that may be, but what I’m saying is that we can’t come to God as though he’s some cosmic vending machine, whenever we have a problem we just reach out to him.”
“I am haunted by the fact that this very exercise [of prayer] is forbidden in this school and thousands of others across our nation,” he wrote in an earlier Facebook post. “I ask myself, ‘If He is God in crisis is He not also God in peace?! If he is worthy of our desperate cries in distress is he not worthy for us to seek Him and submit our lives to Him daily?’”
The NFL star continued that our communication with God needs to be a daily walk of submission and prayer, where we pose these questions:
“Lord, how can I help people?”
“How can I reach out to people?”
“What are the things I can do for the person that is being maligned?”
“What can I do for the vulnerable so they don’t feel like they have to lash out and do things like this?”
When asked what cries out to him the most in these situations, Watson replied, “What cries out to me the most is that people are hurting… and when you take faith out of the public arena, when you take God out of there, people suffer. Whether you believe you’re a Christian or not, those principles really carry us through.”
We live in a world of hurting people—hurting people who are ignored by the glare of our iPhone screens and the allure of our social media accounts that seem to bear more importance in today’s society than the living, breathing humans we pass in the hallways or on the street corners.
Watson stresses that it isn’t just a light-switch we can turn on in tragedy. Though God will still come rescue us in time of need, using God as a genie in a bottle won’t affect the cultural and spiritual change our nation needs:
“It’s not something we just turn to when we have a crisis. Now He will answer us in crisis, and He will come to us and save us and help us in our time of need. But more importantly, when we look at what’s happened in our schools by taking prayer out of schools, by taking the Ten Commandments, God out of schools, by taking Him out of the public sphere, by saying we’re not gonna listen to God, we’re not gonna talk about Him, we’re simply gonna do what we think is best, and then we turn to him in these times–it rings hollow.“
The Ravens player closed with one thought-provoking question that warrants an answer from every single one of the American people:
“So if we can trust God in these times when we are horrified by what happened, when we have nowhere else to turn, why can’t we trust Him in those times of peace?”
It is the daily walk with Christ in the little things that will lead to a cultural revolution in the big things.
I think it’s high time we do away with the double standard. If we truly believe that our God is mighty enough to save in the aftermath of mass tragedy, how much more should He be the object of praise for every good thing and the source of prayer for every need—not just the ones we think we can’t handle… because the truth is, it’s ALL bigger than all of us.