Today, most of the United States’ attention is fixed on the terrible tragedy that happened last night at the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora,Colorado. Click here for more information. Right now, not everything is clear, and somethings, the police are holding back. That’s their right, and that’s what the need to do right now to protect the innocent and work to see justice is done.
What is clear is this; twelve people who were vibrant individuals reflecting the beauty of God are no longer with us. Fifty others, are in the hospital and are fighting to recover. Please keep them, and their families in your prayers as the Lord leads.
In a time of tragedy like this, people begin to look for answers. The police are looking for answers, the families are desperate for answers, and even the film industry would pay whatever was needed, to have concrete answers. It’s part of how our minds work, if we can find where everything went wrong, we can work to fix it, to repair it, to make sure it never happens again. We want to know why.
But we aren’t the first generation of people to want to know why a tragedy happened.
Luke 13:1-5 ESV
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Jesus isn’t threatening people with terrible deaths if they don’t listen to him, He’s interrupting the thought that the people in those terrible events did anything in particular to cause the tragedy. He’s saying that this didn’t happen to them, as a judgement, they aren’t any better or worse than those who didn’t die. But this was a prevalent mindset for the people in that day.
Remember when His disciples asked Him about the man born blind?
John 9:1-3 ESV
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Jesus is clearly saying, in both accounts, that the individual(s) who suffered, did nothing to bring the suffering on them. He’s also offering a way out, Himself. He doesn’t want any person to perish. He gave us free will and because He loves us, and values each person’s will, He will not violate it. Jesus won’t make us stand like statues until the day of final judgement. He won’t make us robots with no will of our own, either.
In the days that follow this one, I’m certain conversations are going to revolve on this topic. As Christians it’s important to make clear, just as He did, when we are talking about or facing or even in a senseless situation, that it is not a judgement on those caught in it. Follow Jesus’ example:
1.) Remind your listeners this isn’t a judgement
2.) Remind them that the people were not any better or worse than themselves
3.) Remind them that there is a way of escaping the ultimate tragedy, being separated from Christ for all eternity
4.) If it is within your scope to help those who are in the tragedy, do so!
Tragedies are unfortunately not as rare as I would like them to be. I find that studying and reading about things like evil, free will, and divine sovereignty (no small task) throughout the year make it much much easier talk to people during a time like this one. I’m not scrambling for resources, I’ve got them ready to recommend and also, to take points of wisdom from and give them to someone who is hurting. Below, you’ll find some of my recommendations.
The best one, is the Bible. Do a topical study on tragedy, or pain, or violence and see what the Lord says about such things.
Additional resources are: