Attempting to comfort survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school massacre and families of the victims, President Trump quoted 2 Kings 20:5: “I have heard your prayers; I have seen your tears; indeed, I will heal you.” Then he added: “We trust in that promise.”
Anyone who claims to trust in the promises of God has the duty to substantiate the claim. Otherwise, the promises can become as banal as “our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
Trump mentioned two ways to substantiate the divine promise: enhancing school security and supporting mental health. He said nothing about guns.
Enhanced school security is long overdue. Since Trump’s inauguration, about 83 school shootings have transpired, resulting in about 24 deaths and an unknown number of physical and psychological wounds. However, having legislated tax cuts at the expense of adding $1.4 trillion to the national debt, Trump must consider the affordability of enhancing school security. He might not even be able to finance his uninformed ideas about arming teachers.
Trump also mentioned enhancing mental health care, which is respectable. But I wonder why, after passing legislation likely to deny treatment to millions of people, he thinks our health-care system has the capacity to do anything beyond what it is doing. Maybe he is betting that the next deranged person thinking about a mass murder will come from the shrinking segment of our society that can afford health care.
Then we have the gun issue. In the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, Trump admonished senators not to be afraid of the National Rifle Association. However, his base elected him to support the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, which defines the right to bear arms within the context of a well-regulated militia. Trump needs to consider how well the militia is regulated. During his administration, about 363 mass shootings have claimed about 475 lives, and more than 1,800 people have suffered physical wounds and psychological stresses.
To substantiate his claim to trust God’s promise, Trump might start with the biblical conviction that the powers of this world have been put to shame (Col. 2:8). The powers of the arms industry are among them. Maybe Trump can mention the NRA’s shameful refusal to take any responsibility for the mass shootings. Until he substantiates his belief in the biblical truths he appropriates, he is vulnerable to insulting and trivializing these sacred promises. Appropriating God’s promises compels him to consider whether he has the moral courage to condemn the powers that tolerate gun violence.