Making Sense of Tragedy

April 25, 2018
By Glenn Ray, Associate Pastor of Care Ministry

As I sit at my desk trying to sort out all the shootings that are happening in our country (the latest being the Waffle House shooting in Tennessee), my prayer is that God will intervene and we will enjoy peace in our world. He loves all of us, and our response to His love is to love others and to earnestly pray for them.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where God is not the center of our existence. I remember on 9/11 a lot of people who were shocked that something like that would happen in America, and they also wanted to know why God would allow this to happen to this country. The most biblically informed response was given by Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter. In an interview on the Early Show, Jane Clayson asked her, “How could God let something like this happen?” Anne gave an extremely profound and insightful response to her question. She said, “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government, and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?” God gave us free will with the desire that all His people would model Jesus’ life of love, servanthood, and forgiveness. But His people have turned from the light. Evil exists in the world, and that evil has touched each of our lives in one way or another. Although that saddens us, we can stand firm knowing that we serve a God who loved us so much that He gave His one and only Son so that through faith in Him, our sins are forgiven and we can have life abundant here on earth and eternal life in the hereafter. We have a great message for the lost culture in which we live.

My heart goes out to those families who are mourning the loss of a son, daughter, father, husband, wife, brother or sister. I know that our heavenly Father feels even more deeply when those He has created in His own image have their lives foolishly taken from them and from the purpose He had intended for them.

As a result of these recent tragedies, I have noticed these changes in my life:

  1. It has helped me to appreciate the sunrise and the sunset. Unfortunately, I had gotten too busy to stop and enjoy the simple things of life. I am learning to slow down and enjoy what I have today.  The simple things in life are becoming more precious to me.
  2. It has brought a greater appreciation for my family. I sometimes take my family for granted assuming they will always be there. I choose to love and appreciate every moment I spend with my family.
  3. It has given me a greater appreciation for our public servants. We have seen ordinary American citizens become heroes. The antics of LeBron James on the basketball court, Cam Newton on the football field, or Beyoncé on the concert stage cannot compare to the men and women who gave their lives or risked their lives for us. I have begun to see a new standard of heroism and hero worship. God bless our public servants.
  4. It has strengthened my faith in God. My faith has been given a new boost because I have found there are some things that can only be accepted and explained through the eyes of faith.
  5. It has brought a greater appreciation for the church in our communities. I see a renewed appreciation for the sanctuary of the Lord where we find peace and comfort following senseless tragedies. I’m renewing my dedication to Christ and His cause so that I will be prepared for what God has in store for me in the coming days. Another thing that I have seen more and more lately is the truth that is found in the words of the psalmist when he said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen for His inheritance.”  

So as I sit here writing this blog I am reminded that out of tragedy brought about by godless people, we find that the spirit of freedom is still intact and the Spirit of God still has power over evil. Remember that good triumphs over bad and being an American means that in adversity we still stand tall and united. As a disciple of Jesus, I am reminded that the love of Christ constrains us and enables us to be comforted and to give comfort.

I am very proud to be an American because, with all its flaws, it is a light of hope and freedom to the world. I am proud to be a disciple of Jesus Christ because He gave me the power to express His love, mercy, and grace to a world that is in desperate need to know Him as Savior and Lord. I remind you of the words of the apostle Peter who said in 1 Peter 2:9:  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into light.”  This means we are a people of acceptance, not judgment. We are a people of faith, not fear. We are a people who walk in light, not in darkness. We are a people who are in the world and not of the world, and we are a people who do not have all the answers but we know and serve the one who does. Let us walk by faith, not passively but aggressively as world-changers and Christ proclaimers.  God bless us as we serve Him.