February 14, 1998 was a day that changed my life and propelled me into a deeper walk with God. At the age of six years old, my younger brother was diagnosed with leukemia. On that day I learned the power of intercessory prayer. When crises seep in, we abandon our earthly way of thinking and cling to God with complete hope that He will make a way in our situation. After multiple rounds of chemotherapy within a span of three long years, Almighty God healed my brother.
February 14th has always been a reminder to me that the Lord is our healer. Around America, this day is considered a day of love. The stores are filled with candy and gifts packaged in colorful paper ready to be given to loved ones, but this year, South Florida endured a horrific tragedy that altered the way we will remember this date forever.
At 2:20 p.m. a gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and started shooting innocent victims. The first thought that went through my mind was, “Do any of the young people from our church attend that school?” My wife contacted the youth staff and many began to pray. I serve as a police chaplain in a neighboring city, along with my pastor David Elms. Within less than two hours from the horrific event, my pastor was on his way to the hospital to pray with the wounded.
As students began to be released to their parents, law enforcement officers informed those who were not able to contact their children to go to the Marriott Hotel. Shortly after, I received the phone call that assistance was needed. As chaplains, our purpose was to talk with the family members and offer them peace and comfort. To be candid, I felt ill-equipped to perform such a duty. I felt as if my mere words could not do anything to offer comfort, but then I remembered that the Lord would be with me, and it was not my words I would be speaking, but His. My drive to the hotel turned into a prayer meeting. I prayed that the Lord would increase and I would decrease. As I walked into the room, looking into the faces of hurting families, all I could do was pray. I didn’t have the power to bring back their children, but I knew a God who could offer them peace that passes all understanding.
A question I received with tears flowing down a mother’s face was, “How could this happen to my child? She had a great future ahead of her.” This is a question I did not have the answer for. The Lord tells us that life will be filled with good and evil. II Timothy 3:1 reads, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” With knowing these perilous times will come, we still hope and pray it never happens to our family or community. My comfort is in knowing the Lord is giving His people another sign that His return is approaching soon!
The days following the tragedy consisted of a community gathering together to offer support and condolences. It was a week filled with emotional highs and lows. Our church, Cathedral of Pentecost, held a youth service on that Friday. As the young people began to pour into the sanctuary, you could sense physical and emotional exhaustion. The service started off slow and emotionless; people seemed stunned. As the service continued on, the power of God swept through the church and young people began to cry out to God. Many wept during the altar service and continued to weep long after the service was over. For some, that was the first time they allowed themselves to feel the emotion of that painful event.
Throughout Scripture, the Lord has allowed evil to abound, with the purpose of producing something greater. The most influential leaders have used their trials to become impactful platforms. The overwhelming scene of the cross turned into joy unspeakable. The losses Job endured were given back to him double. I am often reminded of Romans 5:3-5. Yet, we still find ourselves falling short of being able to comfort people at such a time as this. The pain is unbearable and the questions are unending, but we must remember that it is not us who provides the comfort, but it is the Lord of lords!
We strive to live our lives in a manner so we can hear those beautiful words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” but we often forget the second part, “Thou has been faithful over a few things.” You may not be capable of physically helping in a tragic event, but you can pray and focus on the “few” things in your own life. Perhaps there are people you know, friends at school, co-workers, or family members who need to hear about the peace of the Lord. God has called us to be faithful over a few things. We can shine a light in places that seem impossible to reach. For such a time as this!
When my brother was diagnosed with leukemia, prayer realigned my focus and reminded me that God is still on the throne. This past week, I have felt prayers from all over our country. I don’t know the impact I made on our community during this time, and I may never know, but through this tragedy I’m still reminded that the Lord is our healer! You have the ability to bring healing to those few, or many, in your life. Hold fast to the Lord and remember that He is sovereign. He has never left nor forsaken His people.
Shaun is married to his best friend, Noel. Together they serve as student pastors at the Cathedral of Pentecost in Davie, Florida. His passions include impacting young people and serving his community as a police chaplain.