Last night there was a terrible fire in a high-rise apartment building in London. At last report 12 people have been killed and many more injured. Today a gunman killed three people in San Francisco. He injured at least two others before taking his own life. And also this morning, a man began shooting at a Congressional baseball team practice in Washington D.C. At least five people were injured and two are reported in critical condition.
On days like this, the news becomes almost oppressive to hear. It is so difficult to listen to the pain and anguish of others. There is a temptation to turn away and move on. After all, what can we do here? It is true that we often can’t “fix” the problems we hear about on the news, but we don’t need to simply ignore the pain. It may be easier to not face the pain, but it might not be better.
There is something very moving to me when I see people pull over for a funeral procession. Here are most likely total strangers who can do nothing to bring back the loved one or diminish the loss, but somehow their simple gesture of recognition is meaningful. In every funeral service that I have conducted, I am almost brought to tears when the congregation stands while the family is processed in to their seats. Again, this simple act doesn’t erase the loss, but it does recognize it. It pays tribute to the suffering of another. It is a silent witness that shows the ones who are grieving that they are not alone.
Today, please take a moment and pay tribute to the suffering that is occurring in the world. Unfortunately, there are many more examples of loss than I have mentioned – so please take a moment and offer a prayer for someone who has been hurt or experienced tragedy. I know that most of the people in a funeral procession are not able to see all the individuals who are standing or pulling over as they pass by – but I am convinced they feel their presence. Be present today and lift up your prayers to God on their behalf.