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Talking About Tragedies

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     We are shocked again.

     The headlines are again filled with the unthinkable, and our hearts grieve. Another mass shooting, another list of names, another news cycle of stories - some inspiring, some devastating. This tragedy strikes a little closer to home for our church, touching even the family of one of our members. And so we grieve.

     In the days and weeks to come, there will be many articles, reports, conversations, and posts about mental health, gun control, the climate of hate, and everything else that tends to follow these tragic events. Let us be mindful of how we participate in the conversation. Some thoughts on how to do that:

     Don't belittle the pain, grief, and shock of others. Yes, we should not be surprised that sin is strong and that the world suffers from that fall. But sometimes our hearts are too desensitized and we wonder why anyone feels frightened or sad or vulnerable who wasn't an immediate victim. But the way these events remind us of our own fragility, as well as our God-given ability to share in the sadness of others, is sufficient cause for anyone to be shaken by these events. Knowing God is in control does not make the pain go away, and trying to force silver linings around clouds of sadness does not help people heal.

     Be careful in drawing spiritual lessons or judgments from these events. Jesus responded sternly to those who tried to use the tragedy of others as an opportunity to feel justified in their own spiritual position (Luke 13:1-5). There is much to learn about the depth of our brokenness, the devastation of sin, and the brevity of this life. But let us not think we may pronounce God's condemnation on any group of people.

     Patiently and humbly seek the comfort of knowing that God is still in control. At such times, it is easy to wonder how God could have allowed these events. That question has bothered God's people from the beginning of time. We must look to the cross, where a perfectly innocent Savior suffered for us. His apparent defeat, and God the Father's apparent absence, were actually his greatest victory. We are not always able to see and understand God's purposes.

     Be loving in ALL your conversations. These words from James 1:19 are worth inscribing within eyesight of every computer, every mobile device, and every other forum where discussion takes place: "Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger."

     Brother and sisters, pray for the victims, pray from their families, pray for our nation. Take time to mourn with those who mourn. And fix your eyes on the Savior who is the only true hope we have for lasting peace.

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