Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

Overwhelmed by tragedy? This is what you can do

Sometimes you hear the news and it rips your heart clear out of your chest. Doesn’t it seem that’s happening a lot lately?

Micah had watched the coverage late into the night; I slept peacefully in the next room. Monday morning, his voice was heavy. Every word sank with the weight of sorrow as he told me.

“There was a terrible shooting last night, love. In Las Vegas.” He exhaled an expansive sigh, the kind that gives you away when you look just fine otherwise.  “I just have no way to process fifty people killed.”

Who does?

Overwhelmed by tragedy

Who has a space, a category for this horror? Our broken world is reeling with tragedy. We know it happens, but push away the thought until it slams into us and we cannot avoid it. Today, the heaviness sits quietly with the same question. Nearly sixty people now, gone forever? Over 500 wounded?

The death toll keeps climbing, fresh on the heels of so much tragedy. Hurricanes, floods, lives and homes and livelihoods lost. Grief over unjust deaths. Earthquakes and genocide in Myanmar and refugees still fleeing ISIS.

There are no answers that will satisfy and soothe shattered hearts.

There isn’t a response to any why that could justify such terror. We cannot explain this away. We cannot understand the why.

What do we do with this? What do I do?

The sense of frozen helplessness is profound. But these questions, the desire to look for some way to help restore? These we can answer. We can do something.

In tragedy, let us sit in the ashes with those who mourn.

Let us be cognizant of people whose lives will never, ever be the same.

There are lost loved ones. People who watched their precious friends, kids, or spouses cut down, washed away by floodwaters, crushed in earthquakes.

For some, these traumas will make the evening dark a place of fear. There will be nightmares and flashbacks and moments they forget their loved one is gone, only to be hit by a crushing wave of grief once again.

In tragedy, let us simply do something.

There is always a way to extend love, support, and comfort. Perhaps we can give blood or plasma, write letters, send money, or simply open hearts and homes in the ministry of presence.

The point is not to do everything because that’s impossible. But we can all do something.

In tragedy, let us engage our hearts and minds through prayer.

Not only for the victims, survivors, family, and friends. But that our hearts would expand with greater compassion. Compassion – a word that literally means “co-suffering” or “suffering together” – binds our hearts to others.

And yet we’ve become disconnected, rarely entering the ache of another. It’s uncomfortable, counter-intuitive to sit with the pain and be gentle in our responses, so we need the help of the Spirit who knows exactly what each person needs to hear.

A prayer for those who want to respond well

This is my prayer for us tonight:

May our capacity for pain on another’s behalf only grow.

May our willingness to sit in the suffering of others

come before our desire for comfort.

Help us hear the pain and questions long before we try to offer answers,

and perhaps lessen our need for answers after all.

As we ask You to comfort those who mourn,

may You use our voices, our hands, our arms.

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