What should I do when tragedy occurs?

What a question.  One type of tragedy involves a group or very large quantity of people, like 911, loss of 11 lives on an oil rig, soldiers on a battle field, or flooding of a community.  Another type of tragedy involves an individual life through sudden unusual circumstances.  All human life is important!

Don’t we hate to admit it, but it’s one thing when it happens “out there” or “somewhere else” or to “someone else”.  And it’s all together a different matter when it’s in your family, right in your school and community, and when it is your spouse, child, parent, or close friend.  I want to suggest an initial response for any tragedy.  Not a trite word, but a real word.  Not a pat answer, but a action step that will pursue comfort, help, healing, and hope.  That word is “PRAY”.  Go to God with your sorrow, your pain, your situation, your struggle, your anger. Yes, your prayers will be different if you are outside the tragedy rather than inside it.  However, those on the outside can still pray for those going through the tragedy.

Here are select Psalms (in the Bible) that illustrate a man going to God in prayer in some of the most difficult times: Psalm 10, 13, 18, 22, 23, 28, 40-42, 46, 86, 90,  102, 116, 120, 121, 139, 141-143.

Yes, there is more a person should do than just pray.  But asking for God’s help should be first thing.  This may be a bit uncomfortable and out of the ordinary for some – that’s o.k.  You and I will need His strength, wisdom, comfort, and direction to handle the tragedy.

Andy Woodall
Andy Woodall served as the Pastor of Student Ministries at Faith from 1999-2012.