When Tragedy Strikes

There is a reason I don’t like watching the news. I don’t want to hear about terrorist attacks, mass shootings, neighborhood crime, or death. Who does? Whether I choose to watch it or not, though, it still happens. Earlier today I was reading about the school shooting in Florida and watching interviews of some of the students who experienced what will probably be the most horrific thing they will ever go through. I tried thinking about what I would do if I was in that type of situation, and I hope that I will never find out. The saddest thing about tragedies like these is that the first thing people do is point fingers at who or what they think is at fault. I know I did. My first thought was that teachers need to be looking for more signs, parents need to keep a better eye on their kids, people need to report things they find suspicious on social media, and the list goes on. Others may think we need stricter laws on guns or to ban them all together, or that schools need to have better security. Some of these things may be true, and they may help prevent things like shootings from happening in the future. Sure, we can prevent some tragedies, but not all of them. It doesn’t matter what laws we have or the actions we take to stand against acts of violence. We will never be able to stop all of them from happening.

When Eve ate the forbidden fruit, she opened the door for sin to enter a perfect world. This is where all tragedies start. This is why we can’t stop them from occurring. God is slowly being pushed out of this country. He isn’t welcomed in schools. He isn’t welcome in our government. He isn’t part of the lawmaking process. This country, and the rest of the world, will never be perfect if God isn’t the one leading us.

If you take a look at nations who turned from God in biblical times, you will see that they experienced tragedies as well. In Genesis, we see the flood. The world was so corrupt that God had to wipe out almost all that existed. Sodom and Gomorrah went up in flames for the sins committed by their people. And less drastically (sort of), Egypt endured the plagues. Even Israel, God’s chosen people, was given over to tragedy in their times of disobedience. Tragedy is not brought on by God, sinful people bring it on themselves.

The Bible says,

Genesis 6:5-6 (ESV)

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

These verses refer to the pain God felt over the sin of His people before He sent the flood. I am not saying that God orchestrated the shooting yesterday or any of the tragedies our world has suffered, but He doesn’t stop them. That is the consequence of sin. But, God is there for us in our suffering. He will comfort those who mourn. He does not find joy or satisfaction when bad things happen to us. Think about the children you come into contact with. Sometimes when they do things they aren’t supposed to do, even after being warned not to, we let them do it anyway. We allow them to do this so that they learn a lesson through natural consequences. If they are jumping off of a couch and they bump their head they will learn a lesson through the pain they feel, or so we hope. Sometimes they don’t. Think about what your reaction would be. You wouldn’t find joy in it, in fact you’d probably hug them close and tell them you love them but to not do it again. As a nation, we are reaping what we sow. We are experiencing the natural consequences of what we have done against God.

So, where does that leave us? We need to hit the ground and pray. Pray hard. Cry out to God in the midst of all of the sorrow and pain. This verse says it best,

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We can all try our best to promote change in our world and stand up for what we know is right, and it will make a difference, even if it is small. But, the only way we will ever see a significant change is if there is a Jesus revival. Love others and choose kindness. Look past political views and personal beliefs. And believe it or not, you can even look past religion that isn’t yours. Choose to see others as people in need of Jesus, just like you. Invite your neighbors and family to church. Speak boldly about your faith. Pray with other believers because there is power in numbers. Place your trust in God, only He can save us. Pray for the families who are now broken because of the senseless act of violence that was committed yesterday. Pray for the students that watched their friends die. Let yourself feel every emotion they feel. Be empathetic. Instead of fighting with others on social media or at work, choose to mourn with those who lost their loved ones. Pray, pray, pray and love.

My heart goes out to all of the families and friends suffering after this tragic event. It is so hard to see how God could possibly be present and loving through all of this. I will never fully understand it, none of us will. But I know that my God is perfect in all of His ways, and He will reveal Himself in perfect time.

Lastly, do not fear. Don’t let yourself get sucked into the panic. Find peace in God. God will not be defeated. He will forever sit on His thrown. Rest knowing that God is always at work. He does not sit still. The darkness cannot drown out His light. When tragedy strikes, look to Him.

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