As pictures of Oklahoma have crossed my screen, I realize we are just now digging out of the wake of Hurricane Sandy here in the Northeast. Friends in Massachusetts and Newtown, CT are still putting their lives back together. There are times when “tragedy” doesn’t make the news. A good friend of mine almost lost his life last week in a freak accident. A pregnant wife at the end of our street lost her husband this past Fall to a stray bullet. Bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen. We are left so often dealing through our own questions while simultaneously answering them for our students.
What Do We Say?
1. There Are No Easy Answers
The “Why” questions come fast and furious. It is important to let students wrestle through the “tough stuff.” Let them know you struggle to understand as well. However, we live in a world with sin and evil. There is a true adversary “seeking who he can devour.” This isn’t “God’s fault.” In the end we will never fully understand how this war for our souls works. It is important that students understand this isn’t a grand punishment. There are times when all we can do is listen to the hurt. We must allow them to grieve and express their anger. It isn’t helpful to tell them “not to feel something.” What is vital is we don’t allow them to stay in this place.
2. There Is Still Hope
In the midst of Sandy a good friend of mine reminded me, ”God is still good, it’s circumstances that are bad.” It is hard to imagine that God would “allow” tragedy to happen. Our focus needs to be on the truth that He still loves us. He is fighting for us. It is a reminder that this broken world is not our “true home.” Christ tells us while we are here there will always be hurt, trials, and sin. Jesus is the answer in the midst of all that goes wrong. It doesn’t mean we stop grieving. However, we must remember there is still hope even in the worst situations. We must remind students He never leaves us or abandons us, even in the middle of the “bad.”
3. It’s Alright To Cry & Ask for Help
Comfort, prayer, and support are great ways to show the love of Christ in terrible situations. When you are stunned in the midst of a tragedy you tend to think you “must be strong,” or fall apart completely. Let them talk it out. Let them know strong emotion in the midst of this is normal. Hold them, and show them love.
I am not going to claim to understand tornadoes, hurricanes, bombs and gunmen. All I know is when we made the choice to disobey the Lord in the garden and know the difference between good and evil, innocence was lost. Christ came to redeem our souls, but that doesn’t negate all sin in the world. What I do know in the midst of the questions He remains Lord of all whose love is unfailing. He is the one we have to look to for hope. This is who I offer students. Sometimes there are no words at all. That’s alright too.