How to respond to tragedies

By Pastor Zack Potter


As you have heard or seen on the news, another mass shooting and great tragedy has happened in America this past weekend. This has caused many people to question why this is happening, voice their opinion as to why this is happening, become fearful of the world we live in, and are left wondering where is God in all of this. 


The truth of the matter is when something like this happens, I’m not sure we can ever provide 100% solutions to these tragedies and mass shootings, but we can pay attention to the way we respond. In fact, how we respond matters tremendously, and we have the ability to choose our response. 


So, the following are 5 ways we can respond to tragedies and these mass shootings that have taken place:


1. Prayer


This should cause us to run to God in prayer, not away from God. The temptation for all of us is to blame God and think that this proves that God doesn’t care or that He is absent from our lives. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Tragedies like this past weekend prove that Satan still has dominion and rule over this earth. It doesn’t mean that God isn’t in control or that God doesn’t care, it just means that Satan still has authority. 


Ultimately, Satan is a defeated foe because Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose again three days later which defeated Satan, sin and death. But, until Jesus returns to set up His rule and reign on the earth Satan still has authority. Tragedies shouldn’t cause us to blame God or run from Him, but rather, to actually hate Satan and his work more than ever. It should cause us to want Jesus to return sooner than ever to put a stop to all of this and set up His perfect Kingdom. As John says in Revelation 21:3-4, “And I heard a loud voice form the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” What a day that will be when tears, death, mourning, crying and pain will no longer be. 


Please don’t run from God during this difficult time, run to Him in prayer. 


2. Pausing


The natural tendency is to immediately get on social media to voice and vent our frustrations and opinions. But, the wise thing to do is to simply pause and think about the proper way to respond. If you are a follower of Jesus, this especially applies to you. Your witness, your credibility, your reputation, your belief system, and your influence is on the line. Don’t waste it by being emotional or trying to get your opinion out there. James says in James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” What a timely word of wisdom in our day and age. It will do a lot of good if we would simply pause and consider the weight of our response, and how it can glorify God or damage our witness. 


3. Compassion


We need more compassion in our world. The definition of compassion is: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. Instead of pointing fingers, placing blame, and increasing hatred, we should become sympathetic to the needs of others. We have a tendency to yell at someone who we think caused the problem rather than run to the people who are hurting during this time. Let me ask you a question: when is the last time you became broken over someone else’s pain? We need to develop more tender hearts towards one another because, the truth of the matter is, we don’t need more voices yelling out, we just need more shoulders to lean on and cry on during difficult moments. 


4. Love


In a world filled with increasing hatred we need more people committed to truly loving one another. I have to be careful when I talk about love because I believe it is one of the most wrongly defined words in our culture today. Jesus gives the greatest practical definition of love in Luke 6:27-36:


“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.


True love is found when we love those who don’t love us. Or, when we love without an expectation of return. Love in this moment would be coming alongside of those who are struggling and caring for them, but it is also extending grace and forgiveness to our enemies. As much as we need to love the hurting, we should also love those who cause the hurting because maybe they could be hurting too. Loving our enemies is the true test of love. How are we truly loving those around us?  


5. Hope


Finally, we can and should respond with hope. Hope is: the expectation of a preferred future. As I mentioned earlier, because of what Jesus did on the cross for our sins we can have hope that a better future is awaiting us. That is, for those that know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The only way to have hope in the midst of tragedy is to know that something better is coming. If we have repented of our sins and trusted in Jesus Christ to be our Savior we can truly have hope. Tragedy will one day no longer be, and eternal peace and joy will be our reality.


In conclusion, as a church, community, and country the best thing we can do is to call out to God and ask for His help. If we want anything to change in our country it won’t happen by simply passing a new bill, it will happen by people having new and transformed hearts. I want to leave you with this last Scripture that, if applied, will bring the change that we all so desperately long to see. 


2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Walking your kids through tragedy

By Pastor Jamey Winters


Over the weekend, we witnessed pure evil raise its ugly head once again. I’m referring to the shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. When I heard that there had been another mass

shooting, I tuned the TV to a news outlet to learn of what led up to this event, how the suspect was apprehended, and what is the recovery plan for these communities.


As I listened to the reports coming in, my eyes shifted from the TV to my daughters room. She was lying on her bed with her earbuds in, watching her favorite crafting YouTube

channel. She had no idea what had happened in Texas. Part of me was thankful for that, but another part of me knew that she could not be sheltered from such events forever. After all, we know the Bible teaches us that “…in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” 2 Timothy 3:1 ESV.


As parents, we are being forced to help our families walk through tragic news more and more often. What’s happened in our world? In our nation? In our hearts? Oh yeah, and how do

we speak to our children about this? Many kids will ask, “Why did God allow this to happen?” or “Couldn’t He have stopped this from happening?” 


How do we to talk with our kids about tragedies such as these latest shootings?


As I am searching for ways to help my family maneuver through this tragedy, I want to share what I am learning in an effort to help you walk your family though this. Every child processes information differently. Some kids enjoy focusing on fixing the problem. Others tend to have more anxiety and choose to worry. It is helpful to understand how your child processes things. So some of this may work for your child, and perhaps not so much for others. But, I do believe that aspects of this will be beneficial to all. 


First, pray with your children. There is something about a child hearing their parent pray that can bring peace to their heart and mind. Don’t feel as though you need to cover truth in order to protect your kids, but be wise and careful with what or how many details your share. Many times our children are simply curious and want to know what happened. They’re not really asking about all of the details of the event. Ask God for wisdom as you share. Allow your child to ask questions. Try to enter their world as they try to process information. Some reassuring Scriptures for them could be: Isaiah 26:3-4, Psalm 62:1-2 and Psalm 91:1-2.


Try to live life normally, as much as possible. As tough as it may be while you work through your own anxieties, do your best to be calm in front of your children. Kids are much better at

reading our emotions than we give them credit for. It’s OK to be real and honest, but guard against the urge to be fearful, constantly talking about the story.


Remind them that even though we live in a world where, unfortunately, hard things do sometimes happen, we know we can fully trust in the fact that God is always with us. We are

never outside His care. We do not have to walk in fear. “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV.


And of course, remind your kids how incredibly important they are to you, and to God. Hug them. Tell them you love them and that you will be there for one another no matter what.

And lastly, you don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar. It’s OK to say, “I’m not sure, but that’s a great question! Let’s search the Bible together for the

answer.”


It’s sad but true, we are in a spiritual battle and real suffering does exist. Still, one Truth that will forever be the same, God is greater. And in the end, evil will not win.