When Tragedy Strikes
Two years ago on the 14th of December 2012 tragedy struck in Newtown Connecticut. A crazy gunman went on a rampage and killed innocent little children and their teachers. It happened in America – oceans away – but of course we here in Australia felt its ripples. There was shock, devastation, sorrow, for terrible unnecessary loss of life. It was extra horrific that innocent children were involved. This December we are shocked again. And it much closer to home. In fact it IS at home it happened. And we are stunned and grief stricken. A crazy gunman held people hostage in a café in Sydney for over 16 hours.
Many prayers were sent up that day that all the hostages would be able to walk away unharmed from their nightmare. It was a huge relief that 15 people got away and are alive today. But sadly two innocent people lost their lives. Two people too many. The gunman lost his life as well. How can we understand such a tragedy?
Today is not my blogging day. But I felt compelled to reflect on what happened. To affirm solidarity with all of Australia and indeed with all the world. To weep with those who weep. To pray for peace. To ask that God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. To bring a glimmer of hope amidst the debris of a broken, hurting world.
I weep today thinking of three children who lost their Mum. Katrina Dawson was an exceptional human being – one who has already made a mark in the lives of all who knew her. I weep for her husband, her parents, her family. Tori Johnson, the café Manager was described as being a very selfless young man who lost his life in a sacrificial act of bravery during the siege. I grieve with his family. What a hero – but he isn’t around to receive a medal. Like Katrina, he died too young. Far too young.
Another brutal tragedy occurred the next day. One hundred and fifty one people mostly children were slaughtered in Pakistan by the Taliban. It is just too much to imagine. How can anyone do this to innocent children? Where is God in all of this? Does He know? Does He care? Suffering is one of the hardest questions to answer. The world is a beautiful place. But it is also one that’s filled too often with pain and apparently senseless tragedy. Those who don’t believe in God will shake their fists at heaven or conclude that either God doesn’t exist or that He doesn’t care.
What could I, a follower of Jesus share with you today? I have walked with God for over 40 years. I have known His love over the years – a love that is as sure as the dawn; as fresh and alive as new born lambs in springtime. His love for me has overflowed during the dark times in my life even more than during my bright seasons. His heart has welcomed me home. His hands have held me fast. His love has comforted me. Not always has He given me answers to my ‘whys’. He has simply asked me to cling to Him and to trust Him. Does He exist? Yes. Does He care? Yes, I say with all my heart. He exists. He cares. He is with us.
I do not always understand suffering, especially the suffering of others. I do know however that God has walked with me through my own seasons of pain and heartache. He has felt my anguish. He has wept with me as I wept. He has cared for me. And did you know – He too suffered a horrible death? He suffered the worst kind of death – not because He deserved it but because of His love for us. Does He know what pain is? Yes. Does He know what it is to lose a loved one? Yes. Does He identify with us in our grief and pain? Yes. Yes. Yes.
In the aftermath of tragedy, perhaps there may be better questions to ask than the 'why' question. What now? What can I do to help? How can I ease the pain of my brother or sister? What can I do in the light of the tragedies rampant in our world today? How can I bring peace and comfort to those who suffer? Whom can I pray for? How can I respond?
God often uses human beings as His face on earth. Let us grieve today with those who grieve. Let us seek Him. He is waiting to be found. Let us extend a hand to our neighbour. Let us walk in love and peace. Let us be the light of God to His hurting world.
Let His light shine in the darkness.
‘Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1: 78-79