In a recent conversation about the Washington Navy yard shooting, someone made the comment, “At least only 12 people were killed.”  It took a few minutes before my brain fully digested the magnitude of that comment; of the word ‘only’. Have daily news casts about terrorism, bloodshed and assaults mentally detached us from the value of human life.  How many lost life’s does it take… to get past the word ‘only’; less than 30, more than 100?

We live in an age, a world, where loss of life is hourly news. Our hearts are hardened to death toll counts. School shootings in America, worldwide persecution of Christian churches, bombings, the brutality of war; we listen to the ‘only’ death count and move on.

…only 5 life’s lost in Bosnia, only 22 life’s lost in a bombing, only 2 life’s lost in a gang shooting….

But, what if the death count in today’s news was your family member or a close friend, would the word ‘only’ take on a different meaning? I am fairly certain it would. Our hearts are softened by those things we hold dear to us. Our heart becomes hardened to those things we find no need to consider.

“For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:52)

We have control over how we view the word ‘only’. We control our thoughts control, our actions. Our heart can either accept or reject; we can have a heart of stone or a heart of flesh.

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

I view a hardened heart as:

  • A spiritual disease of the heart; God’s Word no longer matters to us
  • Not keeping God’s Word hidden in our hearts
  • Allowing life’s setbacks, disappointments  and self-centeredness to drive our perception of life
  • Refusing to respond to the overwhelming evidence of truth

Ignoring undeniable evidence of wrong-doing

Each ‘only’ number reported in the news has value. It is someone’s mother; father, brother, sister or friend.

We have a direct line of communication with the omnipotent Creator of the universe. It is called PRAYER. Prayer isn’t a last resort option; it is our ONLY option against the “only” death counts reported in the news.

…only 1 child died in today’s bombing, only 16 women were raped, only 6 young teens were beaten with metal rods…

Maybe it is time we bring the word “only” before the Throne of God; to present our evidence of wrong doing before the Eternal Judge. Maybe it is time to appeal to the high courts of heavens for redemption from our complacent and hardened hearts.

Ephesians 4:18-19 says, “They are darkened in their understanding, and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

I don’t know the condition of your spiritual heart; maybe victory pumps through every vein, or maybe you are experiencing the onset of a hardened heart. Whatever direction you are headed there is one thing I do know. We have the option to change our direction. We can put fingers in our ears and ignore the calling of God; or, we can repent, kick down the door to our hearts and allow God to bring conviction to our complacent mindset.

Don’t get sucked into the ‘only’ viewpoint. Every human life, regardless of race, religion or social standing is valued in the eyes of God. Differences do not give us the right to kill, slaughter, massacre, rape, beat or terrorize in the name of religion, race or sexual identity.

When we consider those ‘only 12 individuals who died’ in the latest school shooting, each were significant in the eyes of God. Each life mattered and impacted others. And each life will be forever missed by family and friends.

My prayer today is this:

Father God, you are merciful to all mankind. You’re ways are not my ways; and your paths lead in directions I do not know or understand. Create in me a clean heart that is willing to see your plan for mankind. Allow my spiritual eyes to see beyond an individual’s exterior and, like you, look within the heart.

I pray for those who suffer terrorism and persecution in the name of Christ. I lift up the ‘ONLY’ victims throughout our world. Bring comfort to those who have lost family and friends while upholding their faith in Christ; in the pursuit of freedom or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Father, keep us mindful that l life can change in a heartbeat and we, too, could become an ‘ONLY’ number.


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