I have wrestled with how to personally express my feelings about the tragedy of Charleston. I am not sure I have anything to add other than my own expression and condolences.

My faith tells me that eternity gained 9 good people. I was genuinely moved watching the news last night as I learned a little about the good people that were murdered. Because we have this hope in Christ, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I believe that they are better off today than me.

My flesh tells me that earth lost nine good people and kept one overcome with evil. It tells me that wives, husbands, children, granchildren, mothers, fathers and friends are grieving and broken. Even with the hope of our faith, our flesh still acknowledges the loss and empty space left by those who are gone. Even Jesus, as He declared He was the resurrection and life, wept in His flesh at the tomb of His friend Lazarus. Faith does not mean we are never broken.

I admit I am perplexed at the state of our nation. Because of where and how I was raised, racism seemed so insignificant in my own personal life. I have never been threatened by someone’s color. I will admit that I have felt threatened a few times by other cultures, but usually out of my own ignorance. Color has never been a problem in my life. The expansion of our connectedness with social media, 24 news outlets and internet, what may once have been hidden, no longer can be. Something must change. This racial divide must be addressed and healed.

I am a leader, therefore I have responsibility. First as a father I have a responsibility to make sure my family understands and respects others. Those who are like them and those who are not. Second as a pastor, I am obligated to address prejudices that exist among the people I lead and encourage them to model Christ. I want to believe both of those places are already above average, but I cannot settle for that.

It is in these times that I feel so incapable. But I have a promise that when I am weak, He is strong. These are difficult times to lead. But I was never promised things would not be difficult. I was given the assurance of His presence as I followed His call on my life. Today I pray for our nation. Today, I pray for myself that I will have the courage to stand in the gap and be a bridge.