“Thoughts and Prayers” are Okay
A letter to the editor of the Buffalo News commented on school shootings. The writer, Gary Rog, correctly asked the question, “What is wrong with us as a society when mass murder becomes commonplace?”
That is an important question to ask.
But the writer answered it himself, perhaps, when he added, “I for one am sick and tired of politicians using the hackneyed expression of ‘thoughts and prayers to the survivors of these horrific events instead of that action that could help to avoid them in the future.”
This gentleman is not the first or last to show disdain for this term.
Ranjeev Puri, a Michigan lawmaker, crassly said, ‘F— your thoughts and prayers,” after the shooting deaths of Michigan State University shootings.
Yet, this foul language betrays the root of the problem. It is lack of common sense by leaders. They are on a rampage to control guns but are completely blind to the sin and mental illness that causes people to pull the trigger.
Misguided politicians and their enablers think prayer is ineffective and sending good thoughts to others in their time of need doesn’t matter. Both notions are anti-God and anti-human, and that insensitivity is at the root of many social problems.
It’s Not the Tool; It’s the Mind of the Person
Gun ownership is far safer than car ownership. The US population is about 330 million people (2021). There are over 436 million guns in the hands of US citizens (2022) and 48,830 gun deaths of all kinds, including accidents, suicides, and murders (2021). That is bad, but only 290 million cars were registered in 2021, and there were 42,915 traffic deaths that same year. Automobiles are FAR more lethal than guns, yet there is no campaign to ban cars. Thus, as far as the killing goes, we must consider gun control as a power play by extremists because vehicles pose a more significant threat.
I do not own guns anymore. I got my first gun when I was seven years old. It was a .22, and I was not allowed to shoot it until I took an NRA gun safety course, which I did within weeks. Later in life, I owned several guns, including a 12-gauge shotgun, a 30-30 rifle, and a 9mm pistol. I have not owned any weapons for decades now, but I do not despise those who do. But common sense says rounding up guns will not stop the problem. There needs to be a change in thew hearts of people, and only Jesus Christ can do that.
Mentally disturbed people cause thirty-three percent of mass killings. According to research, individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are responsible for gun violence. And making it harder for regular people to buy guns does not stop them. Few Americans forget that mentally disturbed people were separated from society and got treatment in mental hospitals.
While I was at Princeton, I did clinical training in one of the last of these facilities, Trenton State Psychiatric Hospital. But in the 1960s to the 1980s, a new philosophy swept the land called the Community Mental Health Program. Insane people were released from “insane asylums” (as they were unfairly called), into our communities. They were supposed to get their meds and their treatment in local clinics. That philosophy failed, of course, and we are reaping that whirlwind of the nearly 330,000 homeless people on our streets today. Many are mentally unbalanced, and as news reports show, many are violent.
We cannot say we have a gun problem. It is weak thinking to suggest that. About .0001 percent of the available guns in the US are used to kill people. No, I’m not suggesting that gun deaths are not appalling; they are horrible. But I am suggesting guns are not the issue, as we see from the numbers. The problem is the murderous hearts of Deranged people are the issue, and the psychiatric community and politicians fail to address the issue.
Let’s Continue with Thoughts and Prayers
Since politicians are never going to solve violence with their methods, Christians must continue with their methods. As Christians, we care about all people. Therefore, our thoughts are with them. We know we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), so we pray for the victims and their families. We will refuse to stop. There is power in prayer because of it:
- Shows empathy and support. Saying “you are in my thoughts and prayers” is a way to express empathy and support for someone who is going through a difficult time. It lets the person know that they are not alone and that someone cares about what they’re going through.
- Provides comfort and hope. Christians are in the hope business. When someone is struggling, they may feel overwhelmed, scared, or hopeless, and we can encourage them by voicing support. Hearing that someone is thinking about them and praying for them can provide comfort and hope and can help them feel more optimistic about the future.
- Strengthens social bonds. Sharing concern for others can help strengthen social bonds and builds relationships. When we show empathy and support for others, we demonstrate that we care about them and are willing to be there for them when they need us.
- Demonstrates faith. Jesus changed the world and he is still redeeming people. It can be a way of acknowledging God and that he is ultimately in control.
- Encourages reflection and introspection: When we say “you are in my thoughts and prayers,” it can encourage both the person saying it and the person receiving it to reflect on their own values and priorities. It can be a reminder to slow down, connect with others, and focus on what really matters in life.
Christian writers can push back on political nonsense. The debauched values we see among politicians are the source of the killing. They refuse to help the deranged people who are doing evil deeds, so the blood is on the hands of these politicians. Let them be in our thoughts and prayers too. Jesus Christ can change the heart of even the most brazen elected officials.