Have you ever thought about all of the different ways that we handle tragedies? Things like Las Vegas, the night club shooting in Orlando, 9/11, Columbine, Katrina, etc. Many of us cling closer to our friends and family and realize what a blessing they are. Some of us get scared or angry and are not sure exactly how to handle the emotions that accompany these things. If we have kids that are old enough to understand what is going on, then we have to figure out how to explain to them how these types of things happen. If we are followers of Christ then we have to figure out how these tragic events fit into our worldview and if we are going to allow them to effect what we believe about GOD. Some people try to push a political or social agenda based on the event, and it doesn’t always matter how loosely the event and the agenda are tied. Some of us spring into action and want to rush to the site of the event to offer aid or we immediately donate to the charities that are helping out. Those who do not believe in God use these events as a way to show others that GOD could not exist in light of the event. Others, rather than blaming GOD, may blame society, whatever political party they are against, or even specific leaders around the world. It seems like the only thing that a tragedy like this does not spark is apathy. We all feel it. It shakes us no matter how removed we may be from the situation. We all wish there was something we could do to have stopped it or something we could do to help it, and not a single one of us want something like this to happen and not be accompanied by some type of change, we just cannot agree on what type of change is needed.
Every reaction described above is an appropriate reaction to a tragedy. They might not all be the “right” or “good” reactions, but they are appropriate. We desperately want these types of things to mean something, produce some type of change, and show the “good” of humanity through a terrible event. Over the next few days and weeks, we will hear people say something like, “the best of humanity shows up when the worst of humanity shows out.” I actually heard that quote on a radio show, but something like that will be repeated consistently over the next few days, and it is true. People will step up through generosity and through showing up and being there for the people they love and care about, and isn’t that the reaction we are looking for. We are looking for love and compassion to shine through in the midst of the most deadly mass shooting in US history.
Here is the challenge in the midst of this. For some reason, people choose tragedies like this to push political and social agendas that may or may not have anything to do with the tragedy that occurred. I remember after Hurricane Matthew came through Haiti, there were too many instances of charities asking for donations toward Hurricane relief that were nowhere near the path of the actual hurricane. I have heard of Presidents and political leaders taken to task for “not doing enough” by people who have no idea how much they were doing. The point is, what happened in Las Vegas was a true tragedy, and that is it. It is not our job to politicize it (or get angry at those who do), to take advantage of it, or to blame others for it. It is our job to show love and compassion to everyone who was affected, and the truth is, that is everyone.
As followers of Christ, our faith has no relation to words like “if” and maybe because our faith is based on words like “sure” and “certain” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV). Our belief in or about GOD does not change based on events or circumstances. The truth is, GOD is GOD no matter what else happens. He loves us and shows compassion to us no matter what else is going on. As followers of Christ our job is not to get angry, judge those who react differently than we do, or allow this tragedy to change our faith. As followers of Christ our job is to show love and compassion to every single person who was affected by this terrible event, but isn’t our job to show love and compassion to every single person anyway? On top of that, isn’t it great to know that our faith in GOD does not change based on circumstances, our relationship to others should not change based on circumstances, and our love and compassion definitely should not change based on circumstances. So, as followers of Christ, let’s not wait until the next tragedy to allow the love and compassion of Jesus Christ to shine through us.