What We Should Do When Tragedy Strikes
Last month I asked “Where God is in the midst of tragedies?” This month I will address “What should we do when tragedy strikes?” How should we respond, in the midst of tragedy such as death, loss, financial or marriage crises?
Several Scriptures come to my mind immediately. At the heart of them all is James 2:17: “. . .faith, if it does not have works, is dead.” In other words, inaction or noninvolvement is not acceptable when tragedy strikes.
In 1 John 3:18, John urges, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. . .” The verse that precedes this concise statement reads, “. . .whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need [often with great tragedy], and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” Tragedy, in another’s life, must bring an immediate and meaningful involvement in sharing a “solution” to their tragedy.
James is even more specific about the necessity of our involvement. He takes us back to Abraham as his example:
“. . .do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:20-22).
He concludes that “. . .as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. . .Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 2:26; 4:17).
When tragedy or need is present, we must respond with real deeds of love, even as Jesus does with our lives. Paul was aware that when God saved him God put His Love in him, and it was impossible for him not to love others, or for God not to be loving others in their times of need – through Him. Paul says: “. . . by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Paul was aware that God Himself was working in and through and around his life. Therefore, knowing God was working so thoroughly, Paul labored significantly, even more than those around him. God had shaped his life and given him a heart to love as he had been loved. He did not receive such grace of God “in vain” but responded immediately so that he was in a place where his life could make a difference to others.
This is the pattern for each of us. In the workplace, in the church, in our family, and in our community we will always become a part of “tragedy". When we do, we must respond with the love of Christ to alleviate the hurt, pain and loss of others. It is a choice we make, and God is observing how we are choosing to respond. May He be pleased with what He sees!