Responding to Tragedy
by Pastor Duane Smets
Shootings, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, cancer… These kinds of evil are not God's vision for the world. Neither nature itself nor the human person are built to handle such things. So, when a tragic event occurs, what is the Bible's response to how we are to respond?
The Bible instructs us to “weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).” The God of a Bible is a God of compassion (Exodus 34:6) who grieves with us and for us (Genesis 6:6; Ephesians 4:30) at things which are an affront to His loving character and vision of a world without sin, sorrow or suffering. We are compassionate and grieve with others because our God does.
Everything we have is a gift of God (James 1:17) and are resources to spread His generosity and love. We are to help others with the resources we have (Titus 3:14) “when it is in our power to do so (Proverbs 3:27).” One of the greatest resources we have to give is the comfort of God. As 2 Corinthians 1:4 in the Bible says, “God comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” We help with God’s comfort and any other resources we can.
The Lord Jesus instructed us to pray and ask God for “His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).” Jesus promised that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33) but He promised to return, make all things new and abolish sin, sorrow and suffering forevermore (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:4-5). Until then we are to pray for the afflicted (James 5:13) and pray for that day (1 Thesalonians 5:1-22). We pray “Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).”
The story of the Bible tells us all tragedies are a the result of living in a world that has been broken ever since sin and rebellion first entered into it (Genesis 3:1-24). This brokenness has had and continues to have catastrophic effects both in nature and in human hearts (Romans 8:20-21). History has proven no political government or laws of the land can change the human heart. Thus, our hope is not in societal evolution but in Jesus’ return as the eternal and righteous King. We long and “wait for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).”