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Dealing with Tragedy on the Day After

16 Apr Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on Dealing with Tragedy on the Day After
Dealing with Tragedy on the Day After

On the morning after a terrible tragedy such as the one we saw yesterday in Boston, its easy to feel sucker punched, to feel dazed by the images and video clips looping endlessly on the news, to feel powerless to help in any significant way.  Maybe this is you today, maybe this describes some of your students today.

How do we process and pray the day after?

Its a big, heavy question that people have asked for centuries, and there’s no easy formula or three simple steps that we could offer each other today. We earnestly hope in the Lord, but we still deeply hurt with people. We long to experience God in the midst of the pain and confusion. We try to find words to somehow say something of substance and our lips fail us. As a minister, you may be feeling a pressure or expectation to have answers and solutions today. The reality is we can’t “deal” with it. It’s not ours to fix.

We may feel the temptation to stuff down, deny, or avoid our own painful emotions, to curtail deep questions with pithy answers that do little more than offer a band-aid to cover the wounds. Maybe you’re feeling that temptation this morning – as you wrestle with what to say to your leaders and students. May I encourage you to pause for a moment longer.

Sometimes simply being present with others in silence
brings more comfort than our feeble, forced words.

May I invite you to take some time this morning to be present with God and others, to be honest with emotions, to pray open-ended prayers for the people of Boston, to sit with uncomfortable questions, and offer Jesus to those who are grieving.

There will be moments of grief and pain today and there will be glimpses of hope and joy. Pay attention to both. Look past the news cycle and looping videos and see God at work in our midst.


[Image via San Antonio Public Library]

“The waves of death surrounded me; the floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face. But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I called to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.” (2 Samuel 22:5-7, NLT)


“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, ESV)

Aaron Brown
Professor of Student Min at Lancaster Bible College
Aaron Brown is an Assistant Professor of Student Ministry at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, PA. He attended Biola University and Talbot School of Theology. Before coming to LBC, he was the Sr. High Director at Living Word Community Church in Red Lion, PA. Aaron serves as the Project's editor and web guy.