Friday afternoon, May 31, a disgruntled city employee shot and killed 12 people and wounded five others inside a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The next day President Donald Trump issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the tragedy.
Trump wrote, “Americans unite in praying for God to comfort the injured and heal the wounded. May God be with the victims and bring aid and comfort to their families and friends.” He also ordered that the flag of the United States be flown at half-staff until sunset, June 4, “as a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the terrible act of violence. …”
Clearly this was on Trump’s mind the next day when he was returning from playing golf and decided to swing by McLean Bible Church and visit with Pastor David Platt. Judd Deere, White House deputy press secretary, explained that the president wanted to “visit with the pastor and pray for the victims of the community of Virginia Beach.”
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The president’s last-minute decision obviously caught Platt and his church off guard. Platt had just finished his sermon and stepped backstage to get ready to take the Lord’s Supper when he learned the president was only minutes away. As is often the case in surprising situations, God brought scripture to Platt’s mind.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” I Timothy 2:1-6
When Trump arrived, Platt visited with him briefly before inviting him onstage, where he introduced the president and read the Timothy passage to the congregation. Then he invited those attending to pray with him for the president. Platt began by praising God and Jesus as Lord and King. Then he prayed on behalf of our president for God’s grace, mercy and wisdom upon him.
Platt also prayed the president would know how much God loves him by sending Jesus to die for his sins and our sins. He shared the gospel through the prayer that we are all sinners and that salvation can only come through trusting in Jesus Christ. He also asked God to give Trump wisdom as he governs and makes decisions every day. In closing the prayer Platt prayed God would bless all of our leaders.
In America many mock Christians, particularly evangelicals, for what we oppose. That we are known more for what we oppose than for what we are for is likely our biggest failure here. Pastor Platt, President Trump, and the congregation of McLean Bible Church prayed together for God’s guidance and blessings. They thanked God that Jesus died to pay for all our sins. This is good and pleasing in God’s sight.