Some tragedies are seen by all and are experienced on an international or national level. Other calamities affect us in our local sphere. Still other tragic circumstances are felt on a very personal and deep level.
How do we respond to tragedy? How are we (as Christians) to respond when loss, death, heartache, and pain strike our country, our family, our church, and our lives? Perhaps these three thoughts will help.
In times of tragedy, the first act the Christian needs to undertake is prayer. We absolutely should pray. We ought to pray for the victims and their families. We should pray that God’s comfort and strength would be felt and realized in their lives.
We should also proceed with caution when dealing those who have suffered a tragedy. In those times, our words can sometimes do more harm and than good. Spouting platitudes such is “it was God’s will” and “there is a purpose for everything” are not helpful when someone is grieving and in pain. In times of tragedy, people need our presence more than they need our words. We ought to be there for them, cry with them, and love them.
Obviously, I do believe that God has a plan and that Romans 8:28 or Jeremiah 29:11 are true. I do believe that these verses teach essential and eternal principles. I’m merely suggesting that these phrases are not helpful in the time of grief because they imply that people should just “get over” their tragedy. Let’s not make the situation worse than it already is. Instead, let’s love people in and through their grief.
Finally, we must respond with compassion to those who are suffering. We are all sinners and we all need Jesus. Let’s not withhold compassion from someone who is experiencing a tragedy because we may disagree with them. Jesus came and died for us even when we were in sin (Romans 5:8). Let us respond with the same level of compassion as our Savior.
Following these three principles will not make things better over night. Overcoming tragedy and grief is a painful process that could take years. In the meantime, may we as God’s people commit to helping, serving, and loving those who are suffering and hurting. And as we minister, may we realize that we will need the same type of ministry when tragedy strikes our lives as well