Eight people were shot and killed and several others injured Thursday night in a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Genae Cook told a media briefing that the scene was an active shooter situation when officers arrived just after 11 p.m. local time.
Police reported that the alleged shooter “has taken his own life.” Multiple victims were transported to various hospitals in the area. One person was in critical condition, according to police.
“This is a sight that no one should see,” Cook told the media briefing. The identity and motive of the shooter have not been released as of this hour, nor have the names of the victims been publicly released.
Every day could be our last day
At the moment of this writing, 46,500 people have died so far today. By the time you read these words, the number will have continued to escalate. Death is a present reality every day we live. For example:
- On this day in 2017, a college senior killed thirty-two people on the campus of Virginia Tech before taking his own life.
- On this day in 2014, the South Korean ferry Sewol capsized and sank, killing 304 people, most of whom were high schoolers.
- On this day in 2011, a Taliban sleeper agent detonated a vest of explosives hidden under his uniform, killing six American soldiers, four Afghan soldiers, and an interpreter.
- On this day in 1947, a ship carrying ammonium nitrate blew up in the harbor in Texas City, Texas. A nearby ship carrying ammonium nitrate and sulfur caught fire and exploded the following day. The blasts and fires killed nearly six hundred people.
- On this day in 1945, a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea torpedoed and sank the MV Goya, which Germany was using to transport civilian refugees and wounded soldiers. It is estimated that up to seven thousand people died.
These calamities from the past remind us that every day could be our last day. Tragedies such as the FedEx shooting especially affect us because they strike close to home. While we do not know the motive of the shooter at this time, we do know that what happened at the FedEx building could happen nearly anywhere to nearly anyone. Including you and me.
What I do not know today
Does God’s word offer us help and hope as we respond to another mass shooting and as we face our own mortality?
The Bible explains crimes such as the FedEx shooting as the tragically sinful misuse of human freedom that began in the Garden of Eden and continues today. It promises God’s presence and empathy with all who suffer as a result of such sin or any other calamity in this fallen world. It calls God’s people to be his instruments of intercession, compassion, and ministry for those affected by such tragedy.
However, it does not tell us why innocent people are so often the victims of sin or calamity that is not their fault. I don’t know why my father died from heart disease at the age of fifty-five or why my oldest son had to suffer from cancer.
A FedEx employee told reporters after the shooting, “Thank God for being here because I thought I was going to get shot.” What of those who were?
I do not know why the innocent victims of this tragedy had to suffer and die. I do not know why some survived and others did not. But there is much that I do know that is relevant to us today.
Five promises we can claim today
I read daily from Daily Light for Every Day, a compilation of biblical readings by Anne Graham Lotz. Anne writes: “Without fail, the verses selected for a particular day’s reading seem to speak specifically to that day’s needs. In fact, God has spoken to me more often through the verses in Daily Light than through any other book, except the Bible.”
After reading this morning of the tragedy in Indianapolis, I read verses in her volume for today that teach these life principles:
One: We can speak to God honestly about our fear, confusion, and doubts.
David told the Lord, “I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold: I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Psalm 69:2). We can name our pain and tell God about it.
Two: We can know that God hears us when we call.
David testified: “I had said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from your sight.’ But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help” (Psalm 31:22). God hears us when we do not hear him.
Three: We can fight fear with faith.
The writer of Lamentations said, “Water closed over my head; I said, ‘I am lost.’ I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’” (Lamentations 3:54–57). He offers us the same assurance today.
Four: When we struggle to find hope in the present, we can remember God’s faithfulness in the past.
The psalmist asked, “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’” (Psalm 77:7–9). Then he responded: “I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old” (vv. 10–11).
How has God been faithful to us in the past? Since he does not change (Malachi 3:6), we can claim his faithfulness today.
Five: We can trust God for a better future in the midst of present tragedy.
David testified, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” (Psalm 27:13). Since we are the child of God and nothing can take us from his omnipotent hand (John 10:29), we can claim David’s promise today.
“Weep with those who weep”
I invite you to make these promises yours wherever you need the assurance of God’s love and grace in your life today. Then please join me in praying for the victims of the FedEx shooting and their families. Pray that God’s Spirit working through God’s people will make these promises real and relevant for them. Pray for them to have the faith to believe that God is redeeming this tragedy in ways we may see and ways we may not on this side of eternity (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Let’s join him on our knees.