The Las Vegas Massacre – How Do We Cope?

Over the weekend, I led a Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry retreat in Spokane, WA. It was an amazing experience. I personally witnessed the healing power of Jesus Christ as He comforted people who have struggled tremendously to overcome anxiety. What’s amazing is that I’m not a therapist or a psychologist. I’m just a guy who talks about Jesus. After spending decades trapped in a prison of worry, I encountered the Lord and He granted me peace. Now, I make my career introducing others to my friend Jesus and the results are astounding!

After traveling home from Spokane, I arrived back in Philadelphia after midnight and went straight to bed. Because of the travel, I took the day off from my morning radio show and woke up just before my weekly “Be Not Afraid” appearance on Catholic Community Radio in Baton Rouge, LA. I had a verse all picked out (relating to the anxiety caused by pursuing wealth) and I was holding the phone in my hand getting ready to go on the air when my wife whispered to me, “There’s been a shooting in Las Vegas and 50 people are dead”. I was stunned and immediately knew that I had to shift gears. As I went on the air, this is the Bible verse that came to mind:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

As I began to speak, many questions raced through my mind. What could I possibly say about the senseless murder of nearly sixty innocent people? How can I calm the nerves of those who fear a future attack that might affect them? Where is God in this? Who is to blame? How can it be prevented? And then, because I always pray to the Holy Spirit before my radio interviews, I remembered what happened over the weekend.

I watched several individuals approach Jesus, many for the first time. They encountered Him through prayer, the Eucharist, Reconciliation and Scripture. There is no doubt they were hurting. Everyone at the retreat was desperately looking to stop worrying. Some could no longer work because of their anxiety. As the retreat leader, I shared the story of my own battle with anxiety and discussed various Scripture passages aimed at soothing anxious nerves. More importantly, I told everyone present that all of my words would be meaningless unless they did one thing – go to Jesus. Even though I am well known as an authority on overcoming anxiety, Jesus is my secret weapon. My peace comes through Him. When we encounter the Prince of Peace through the Bible, prayer and the Sacraments, something powerful happens.

After sharing the Bible verse and some comments on the radio, I turned on the news and watched a commentator state that the police need to find out why the gunman did what he did in order to prevent it from happening in the future. It was obvious that he was trying to ease the viewers’ anxieties, but I questioned whether this was a realistic approach.  Could this have been prevented? In an attempt to do my part to comfort those who were anxious, I signed on to Facebook to post the above Bible verse and here’s what I saw:

The massacre happened because the country is divided and there’s too much hate.

What happens if this turns out to be terrorism?

Why don’t people get this upset about abortion?

It’s a gun control issue.

This is another sign that the world is coming to an end.

After posting the Bible verse from Psalm 23, I logged off of Facebook and did some business related work, but I felt that I needed to say more. People are reeling from this event and I’m the “worry guy”. I need to give them hope, but I didn’t know what to say. Then I once again thought of the weekend.

As I witnessed at the retreat, Jesus is the answer. Not only can He heal our anxiety, but He can help the situation. Close to sixty people died unexpectedly and faced the Lord in judgment. They need our prayers, as do their families and all who were affected by this terrible act of violence. Prayer can also help to unite the country and bring about peace. In addition, prayer can deliver peace in the midst of turmoil and suffering. Spending hours watching the gory details of what took place in Las Vegas will not calm your nerves or help the situation, nor will venting on social media. Turning to Jesus in prayer will be a much more productive use of your time. If you need additional evidence, I suggest that you take a look at what St. Paul wrote while sitting in a Roman prison. Turn to Jesus and ask for His help. You will find peace.

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

By

Gary Zimak is the author of several books, including A Worrier's Guide To The Bible, From Fear To Faith and Stop Worrying & Start Living. Gary is a frequent speaker at parishes and conferences across the United States and Canada and is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on the topic of overcoming anxiety. He is the host of Spirit In The Morning on Holy Spirit Radio in Philadelphia and the creator and host of Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, the only Catholic podcast designed specifically for worriers. Gary is also a regular guest on EWTN TV and radio. For more information, visit his website FollowingTheTruth.com.

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  • Kathleen Lessman

    The thing I think most about is : was the 59 who passed from this life, were they prepared to meet Jesus in judgement?

  • Britto

    Its sad hear the news, but at the same time, we must be aware of the Evil powers work freely throughout the sinful places, people only care about the visible things and not realizing that an invisible world is fighting against us.

  • Park74

    Every morning I pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the souls in purgatory, the dying no matter when they are dying especially unrepented sinners who are dying, past present and future. It was after I heard Fr Chris Alar from National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA that started my doing this.

  • Librarian50

    “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.” These are Jesus’s words to the mourners before he raised the daughter of Jarius from the dead.
    Fear is useless. The Media feeds our fear and fill us with darkness. God wants us to keep our eyes on Him. I have to begin to turn off the news more and more often. I am lucky to be close to an Adoration chapel and spend an hour there almost very day. (I am retired.) One of my favorite prayers is just: . “Jesus I place my trust in you. Never let me become confounded or confused.”

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