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Pray for Las Vegas

By Myrtle V. Thompson

Few will have missed the story, but Oct. 1, 2017, will go down in the history of Las Vegas as an evening never to be forgotten.

Celebrities, some idolized by the young and some by the old were finishing a performance on a stage with about 22,000 attendees below them. Sudden gunshots, initially sounding like firecrackers, reverberated through the air, striking hundreds of the young, the old, even the infirm in wheelchairs.

It was a terrifying experience.

With such a large crowd and so many shots, it was impossible to know from where they were coming, to move quickly, or find a place to hide. No time to think of anyone else.

Bodies fell, some still alive, stumbled over by unsuspecting runners. No one expected to encounter problems like this. One shattered moment left a hurt like the sting of a scorpion.

It was, as the president said later, a “very evil” man who chose to do it. Evil always lurks in unsuspecting places where scorpions like Stephen Paddock use their poison.

The police and medical people were on hand in minutes. After a respite and a solemn moment of quiet, someone asked those standing around to join hands in a circle for prayer. It may have been the first prayer meeting some had ever attended.

Death and horror send us seeking the God who listens.

In our church Leadership Training class the next night, we tossed around how we would answer the question “Why did this happen?” The Las Vegas tragedy needs an answer. What kind can we give?

We often hear “everything happens for a reason.” There is a hint of faith in this trite suggestion, but implied faith offers no provision for the substance we need. Who dares respond to why Stephen Paddock devised his devilish plan?

In the past few months we have had one unrelated tragedy after another, leading one student to ask if the series of recent events in our country is a judgment on America. It is a tough question to answer.

Pray for Las Vegas. I hope the response will be enormous.

As to the student’s question about God’s judgment, no one can answer, but we know from Scripture that God has judged nations and people in the past.

We are dealing with the creator of the universe, who is not limited by time, place or people. He takes note of our prayers.

Thousands of years ago a prophet named Jonah was told to go to the great city of Ninevah and tell them the city would be overthrown in 40 days. Jonah finally got his act together and did what God told him to do.

The king was so moved by Jonah’s message he took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes as a sign of repentance. He proclaimed a fast, had the animals covered in sackcloth, decreed that neither man nor beast should eat or drink for three days and told the people to cry to God. When they did, God took notice and Ninevah was spared.

Prayer is serious business. The answer comes with obedience and repentance. It is always worth giving it a try — on God’s conditions.

Myrtle Virginia Thompson is a Suffolk resident and former missionary. Email her at mvtgrt@gmail.com.