All tragedies leave behind them a mass of questions, the most recent one being in Las Vegas, which has left us all reeling and asking: “What do we do? How can we pray? Is God still good, and what does the Bible say about how we should respond?”
Some of the things we can look at are….
How did Jesus respond to tragedy?
In Luke 13, we find Jesus in an interesting conversation in which He makes a reference to a recent tragedy, “Of those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:4-5).
The past conversation surrounding Siloam probably sounds very familiar, “Jesus, why did this happen? Was this an act of God’s judgement on their sin? Should the builders be punished for their poor work? Why!?”
Here Jesus points them back to the Gospel reminding them of the bigger picture beyond “who’s to blame”, and “why” stating, “All are in need of salvation…” So, our message in tragedy should be the same as every day, “Come to Jesus, for it is only in His arms where true peace and joy can be found. Only in Him is there forgiveness of sin, and freedom from shame.”
He was deeply compassionate towards both His friends and His enemies. In His grief, He wept for his dear friend Lazarus, and in His grief, He wept for the people of Israel who would soon reject the hand of salvation (read John 11:35, Luke 19:41, and Luke 23:24).
Paul says in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.” This is not a commandment for Christians to share in the burdens of other Christians, but for Christians to share in the burdens of all people.
So, what do we do now?
We can love fellow sinners
Jesus engages with the despised Samaritans of this world, and calls them into a personal relationship with Him. It is time for us to get uncomfortable and share the Gospel with the Samaritans and tax collectors of our day, whether it is a non-Christian friend or a neighbor who is a grouch. As we develop relationships with others around us, God will use us to “bind up the brokenhearted [and] to proclaim freedom for the captives,” just as He did.
We can unite as one Body and serve with passion
God is glorified whenever believers come together, putting aside their political differences, and devote themselves to the greater works of His Word. The Bible also emphasizes the importance of unity in the Body of Christ, and the more that we push aside the things that hinder us from uniting as one strong voice for His kingdom; the more He will increase our numbers (see Acts 2:42-47).
How can we pray?
How is the Lord leading you to pray? Seek His guidance, asking that He would give you the words. Here are some good prayer points to keep in mind:
- Pray that the lost would come to know Christ, and that the families and friends left behind would be able to experience God’s comfort as they mourn.
- Grieve deeply for those who died without coming to know Christ as their Savior, and are now spending eternity apart from Him.
- Pray that the Lord will give our leaders wisdom.
- Pray that God will help us love others radically, just as His son Jesus did.
- Pray that God will use tragedy to open people’s eyes to their need for His unending grace.