I don’t watch TV much, so it was midmorning on Monday when a friend texted me about the Vegas shooting that I dusted off the remote and tuned in. Just like you, I was horrified. Broken-hearted. Wondering what on earth would prompt someone to commit such a dreadful act. Nevada’s governor spoke at a press conference I watched and summed it up well: “We’re angry. We’re grieving . . . We don’t understand what has happened.”
Tragedy is beyond our comprehension, isn’t it? When circumstances arise that we can’t control, we are afraid, mourning losses and asking the question “why?” Though it was a different scenario, this overwhelming tragedy reminds me of 9/11. The deep sadness and questions came flooding back. But I do believe there is hope in the midst of our darkest hour. There are things we can do to walk through this tragedy well.
During the press conference I watched, the sheriff and governor both asked us to keep Las Vegas in our prayers. Our “thoughts” aren’t enough. In the midst of tragedy, we awaken to a sense that we need divine intervention and comfort, and hope from somewhere outside ourselves. And perhaps more than anything, we need somewhere to go with our questions. Jesus says simply, “Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find. The door will be opened to the one who knocks.” (Mat. 7:8) So bring your requests and your questions. Tell Him everything you think and feel. Knock and ask fearlessly.
The prophet Jeremiah spent his life forecasting tragedy, but still spoke words of hope from God: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans for welfare and not for calamity. To give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11) Paul, who was constantly in prison and under the looming threat of death, called God a God of “compassion” and “all comfort.” (2Cor. 1:3-5) Like so many others, these men found rest in God in the middle of terrible circumstances. They experienced His comfort firsthand, and they knew nothing was more centering, more secure.
When Jesus learned His dear friend Lazarus had died, He wept. (Jn. 11:35) Even though He knew He would restore Lazarus life in the present, and He would soon give His own life to conquer all tragedy, He still sobbed tears of anguish and anger. He still knew what a horrible, unfair part of life death is. As we go to Him with our questions, we can remind ourselves that His suffering means that tragedy no longer needs to leave us hopeless, and that His tears at death mean that He cries with us, and holds us as we cry.
All day I’ve watched incredible stories of heroism unfold on TV. Doctors and nurses coming from out of town to treat victims at Vegas hospitals. First responders fearlessly jumping into the fray to rescue concertgoers. I even heard of a guy from the Nashville area who died in the process of protecting his wife.
We can help, too. We can contribute to the funds being set up for families who have lost loved ones. We could even write letters of support to those who speak publicly about their experience with the tragedy. And we can reach out to each other to talk through what we’ve seen. Whatever you do, don’t walk through this sadness alone.
Every time a tragedy like this happens, I find myself repenting for not valuing what is most valuable. Before I heard the news, I was reading blogs about productivity and how to maximize the impact of my email list. (Guh.) Loss like this reminds me of what’s important: Using my words and actions to communicate love to others; making close relationships a top priority; making future plans that involve bringing hope and light to the world in every way I can think of.
Though this tragedy absolutely breaks our hearts, let’s let it help us become more attentive, more loving and open, more prayerful, and wiser people.