Stunned, horrified, deeply saddened and groping for more information flooded my emotions as I took in the tragedy that happened in Las Vegas. Equally, that same sense of dread and dismay crashed over me like an unexpected ocean wave as just weeks before we learned of violent riots, hurricanes, another church shooting, earthquakes, more anger driven aggression, and more mayhem making storms. Our world is a mess. It’s overwhelming, even more so if you or someone you know is at the epicenter, and in all this tragedy many cry out, “God, I don’t understand.”
It is difficult to grasp the immense suffering these catastrophes have caused as lives are cut short, fear is compounded, loss is expanded, insecurities are amplified, isolation is magnified, and tremendous and deep pain is intensified. No answer seems good enough and no explanation erases the haunting memory of the moment. However, it does help to talk about what we are experiencing, and to consider some important thoughts, especially about God.
One thought to ponder is that God is sovereign.
Psalms 97:9 For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
Psalms 147:5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.
Psalm 24:1-2 The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
Job 42:2 I know that you (God) can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Proverbs 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
He is working His plan and purpose, including His plans for us (See Jeremiah 29:11). Yet, in God’s sovereignty, why do bad things happen? Why do bad things happen even to good people?
This is where we need to remember that God has given humanity the free will to choose.
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
When the biblical leader, Joshua, was stepping down he challenged the people of Israel to make their free choice…
Joshua 24:15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Giving humanity free will is because of God’s great love! See, it would not be love if there were no choice. We would be robots programmed to follow tasks, not beings created to love.
Now, the unfortunate reality to this love induced free will is some will choose not to believe in God or follow God’s way of life, and humanity chose to go against God, seeking to be like God (see Genesis 3:1-24, Romans 5:13). Our world was then, and continues to be, saturated with sin. We are born with a sin tendency. It’s in the air, and there is an evil one constantly manipulating so people do not choose to believe in God or live life His way. That choice has consequences, some disastrous. Some choices can even be evil, like what the world witnessed in Las Vegas. This difficult truth does not hold much comfort, but brings understanding that people make bad and evil choices where bad things happen, even to good people.
So what do we do when those bad things happen? Yes, pray for the victims and their families. Give aid where you can: give money, step up to donate blood, give time to volunteer, help where you can, and care. The key is to have compassion.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
It is the sense of feeling with someone who is in pain: helping them carry their sense of loss, understanding their struggles, lifting and enduring the weight of their plight. Not judging, not ignoring, not placating, but walking with them as they travel this valley, knowing the truth of God…
Psalms 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
We may not understand all the tribulations of life, but we do know there is a loving God who will walk with us. Let’s keep turning to Him.
Trusting God along with you in tragedy,