When Tragedy Strikes…

 I hold her hand, tears streaming down her face as we walk across the street from our church to the local high school. Our destination is a student led prayer time on the football practice field. Overnight tragedy has struck and three young men are dead. I do not personally know these young men, but the students I lead do, and they are broken hearted. With a Bible tucked under my arm and a box of tissue in my free hand, we march on. She and I are not alone, together as a ministry we solemnly walk as one.

 As we enter the practice field, the silence is heavy. People are weeping, they are huddling together earnestly seeking comfort. I wonder, “What do I do? How do I help? God what words can I say that can bring any sort of hope to the broken? “

 I listen to the words of students, teachers, and parents. They share their memories. They strive to give hope. Social media explodes as students share their struggles and pain. They ask how a sovereign God could allow this. They wonder what they could have done different.  I wrap my arms around a weeping student and she confides in me, “I am trying to not be mad at God.” I search for words and remind her that God is still good and He has not changed.

 In the midst of tragedy, people look to leaders in the church for answers. I know that I cannot be the only one who feels ill equipped.  I sat this morning with my Bible, pen, and journal in hand asking God to give me words to speak to the broken hearted. I sought Him and His wisdom because I know I have none.

 So what do we do when tragedy strikes in our church, our homes, and our schools? How do we take what we know to be true in the Bible and live it out to those who are broken hearted? This is the question I continue to ask myself. I do not pretend to have all the answers. But I seek to offer you some lessons I am learning in this tragedy.

 Relationships Matter

I am learning that in a time of loss, people want to be consoled by those they are close to and trust. We cannot be offended when the hurting do not seek us out. We cannot force ourselves on others, but can offer our help and let them know we are available. I am also seeing the importance of building intentional relationships. My church sits across the street from the high school. Each fall we invite the football team into our church, feed them, and share the gospel with them. Every Wednesday our student ministry staff eats lunch with students. The relationship that we have with our local high school provides many open doors for our church to minister to our community in the midst of tragedy.

 Sometimes Words Are Not Needed

This is where I struggle most. My spiritual gifts are speaking gifts. It takes every ounce of self-control not to walk around speaking truth into people. This week I am learning sometimes I need to be silent and just offer a hug, hold a hand, or offer a tissue. My actions minister to the hurting sometimes more than my words do.

 Relationships + Actions = Opportunities for Truth

As I am intentional to let students know I am available and love them through action, God is providing opportunities for me to speak the Gospel to people. I am able to gently remind people that God is still good, point them to Scripture, and remind them to seek and trust Jesus. Our relationships along with our actions provide us with ways to speak truth into the hurting.

 Seek God

As a Bible Study leader, I know how important it is for me to be in the Word daily. In tragedy I am daily seeking the Word because I desire to be ready for any opportunity. God has been so faithful this week to bring Scripture to mind, to give me wisdom when to speak and when to stay silent. In the midst of tragedy our first response should be to seek the Lord, to ask Him for guidance, to lift up those who have been left behind. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget the simple yet vital importance of seeking the Lord.

 Shock hit my community overnight with the death of three young men. Whether you are a student, a student leader, or a minister God will give you a platform in the midst of tragedy. No one is prepared for young people to die. Where will you turn when tragedy strikes you?

 

Ashlee is a native New Mexican. She is the wife of a College Minister, a student ministry leader, and has been involved with Transform Student Ministries for 14 years. She seeks to be a disciple of God and His Word as well as a disciple-maker. She is striving to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel and to seek the favor of God not men.

 

Lord, Where Are You When Bad Things Happen

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