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Recent mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and so many other places this year leave us asking, “Where is God in all of this?”

Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” once shared in an interview, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” That’s where God is.

God is in the people who aren’t running from the violence, but running toward it. God is in the first responders putting their lives on the line, those in hospitals using their God-given gifts of healing, and those offering support and peace to the traumatized.

God does not pull puppet strings to avert bad or force us to do good, but neither is God absent. In Jesus, we see a God who runs to, and is already in the midst of, the pain of this world.

However, God does more than react to evil. The Holy Spirit works wonders through the helpers who change the hearts and minds of would-be killers before they kill.

God works through the helpers who lift up those bullied, who show hope to those despairing, who give perspective to those who see different people as less than human, and who show the value of every life to those struggling to value even their own.

God is also working in the helpers like the Lubbock, Texas woman who recently turned in her own grandson after she found out he planned to kill others and commit “suicide by cop.”

There are a lot of people right now pointing their fingers and hurling insults as quickly as any shooter can point their gun and hurl bullets. We need to talk about the steps we can take through laws, policing and mental health care, but we also need to do more than put Band-Aids over the deeper festering wounds of abuse, anxiety, racism, misogyny, hatred and despair.

Where is God in all of this? The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

God is running ahead of us, working inside of us and transforming each of us into the helpers who step into difficult situations and prevent tragedy every day by standing up to bullies, reaching out with healing, seeking truth, demonstrating the value of every life and giving hope to the hopeless.

Mike Kern, pastor of Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Liberty, wrote this column on behalf of the Liberty-Area Ministerial Alliance.

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