How to Respond When Tragedy Strikes

6 Mins read

None of us are exempt from suffering. However, there are times where that suffering comes without any warning. You don’t have to look far to find tragedy. If you turn on the news or scroll through your social media feeds, you’ll probably be bombarded with examples of people around you who are dealing with tragedy. Tragedy isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination. We can look to Scripture to find countless examples of God’s people facing tragic situations to better understand His method for dealing with tragedy.

Tragedy isn’t selective. Everyone from the poorest person in the world to the most powerful, wealthiest ruler is prone to experience tragedy. What makes tragedy even harder to face is its unpredictability. We don’t get to schedule our tragedies. Take for instance the terrorist attack that took place in the United States on September 11, 2001. Thousands of Americans lost their lives with no warning when a group of evil, wicked men decided to launch a strike against the American way of life. For the rest of time, 9/11 will be referred to as one of the greatest tragedies to ever occur.

The men and women who died that fateful day had no reason to think their day was going tow be anything out of the ordinary. The thousands who died in the World Trade Center buildings just believed that they were going to work like they had countless times before. The men and women who died in the planes assumed that they were going to leave from one airport and arrive at another one. No one had any reason to think that September 11, 2001, would be the last day of their lives. Additionally, the people who died from injuries and other issues caused by the attack in the days, weeks, and months that followed had no idea that their lives would never be the same again.

While tragedy’s lack of willingness to avoid people based on any number of factors is one element of it’s cold nature, the fact that it can strike at any time with no warning makes it even worse. Ideally, you will never suffer a tragedy like the one on 9/11. However, the magnitude of the tragedy isn’t what makes it so painful. The quickness and coldness of tragedy is what makes it so difficult.

God’s people have been suffering tragedies for thousands of years. Shouldn’t we be exempt from tragedy? Afterall, we are His children. Shouldn’t that mean that we don’t have to deal with tragedy? Unfortunately, no. The Bible teaches us that it rains on the justified and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Understanding how to deal with tragedies, both in our own lives and in the lives of those around us is paramount. God is still with us, even in the face of tragedy. He never promised that tragedies wouldn’t come, but His Word does provide us with the tools that we need to deal with them.

Looking for the Good

Romans 8:28 (TPT)
So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.

It sounds so cliché to tell people that they should look for the positives in every situation. Additionally, it almost seems uncaring to tell people to look for the good in tragedies. When we suffer a tragedy, the last thing we want to do is try to find that silver lining that is supposedly hiding behind every dark cloud. The grief that you’re suffering is real, the pain that you’re dealing with is intense, and it’s completely OK if you’re not prepared to say, “I’m looking for the good part of this whole thing.”

The grieving process is a lengthy one that varies from one person to the next. When we lose a loved one who has battled a lengthy illness, we start the grieving process before he or she dies. In some cases, especially if they are a child of God, we can quickly find the good part because we understand that their suffering has ended and they’re now in the presence of God. However, when we lose someone unexpectedly, it’s much harder to find the good part. Unexpected loss is a tragedy. In those moments, it’s harder to find the positives.

While some well-meaning individuals may throw this verse around in a way to tell you to look for the positives, please understand, it’s OK if you’re not ready to do that. However, you can still rest in the promise that God is capable of producing something good, even from the ashes of tragedy. You don’t have to see it now, but you can look for it as the grieving process continues.

Helping Others Through Tragedy

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (TPT)
All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just as we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ.

Taking a Godly approach to dealing with tragedy isn’t just about dealing with our own tragedies. Instead, it also deals with our ability to help others who are facing tragedies of their own. According to this portion of Scripture one of the reasons that God comes to us when we’re dealing with a tragedy is that He wants us to do the same to those around us who are facing tragedies of their own.

It’s important to understand that you don’t have to have all the answers to comfort someone who is dealing with a tragedy. You don’t have to be able to tell the grieving mother who just lost her child why it happened. Instead, simply being there to pray with her, encourage her, and love her is a form of helping others who are dealing with tragedy.

We know that God comforts us (and we will discuss it in a moment). However, it’s just as crucial that we’re prepared to comfort others. Don’t shy away from others in the face of their tragedy. Instead, run to them just as quickly as God runs to you.

Jesus, Hold Me Now

Psalm 46:1 (TPT)
God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble-more than enough and always available whenever I need you.

You probably don’t remember much about life when you were a baby, but your parents, grandparents, and whatever adults were there for you during that season of your life do. If you have children of your own, you’ve probably dealt with a screaming child yourself. When you were a baby, there were times where you cried for no reason at all. If you’ve got a baby, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the same. Sure, sometimes a baby cries because he or she needs a new diaper or needs fed. However, there are other times where they cry just because they need held.

There are too many instances of God being referred to as our Father in Heaven for us to possibly list here. However, with that in mind, we can rest in the promise that He will hold us when we need Him to. You may not always feel a physical set of arms wrapping around you in your time of grief. However, through the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, you can rest in the promise that He is with you.

When tragedy strikes, you can run to your Father God in Heaven and find a place of comfort and refuge in Him. The Bible promises us that He is close to those who are suffering a broken heart (Psalm 34:18). If you’re dealing with your own tragedy, cry to God. You can let out everything that you’re feeling to Him, and He will comfort you.

A Closing Prayer:

God, help me to navigate this tragedy. You know that I am stricken with grief and I’m not sure why this has even happened. However, I know that You can work everything out for my benefit. Right now, I’m not ready to see that, and I just need You to hold me. Also, help me to use my own experiences with tragedy to comfort those around me who are suffering in their own right. In Christ’s name I ask these things, Amen.

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