Last night, at an Ariana Grande concert, 22 people were killed and many others injured after a suspected terror attack at the Manchester Arena. These stories of terror attacks fatigue my soul. I become numb, not knowing what to do. So, how should we respond to this tragedy?
What do we do when suspected terrorists attack like this? I feel helpless and inadequate to do anything. If you are anything like me, you probably feel the same way. The thing that troubles me the most is that this our new normal. Deadly events like this are becoming normalized in our world. We are shocked, but not really. We grieve for a moment and then go on with life. How should followers of Jesus respond to this tragedy?
Acknowledge our hurt, perplexity, and confusion to God.
I wish I better understood why a good and all-powerful God allow things like this to happen. I am troubled, and I cannot find words to describe my heartache. Like David, in Psalm 77:7-9, we can ask character questions of God:
Has the Lord rejected us forever?
Will he never again be kind to us?
Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten how to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion?
These types of questions are not questions of unbelief, but a desire for explanation in the midst of perplexity. God will not get angry with us for asking questions. His invites us to lament and bring our doubts and confusion to him. He already knows that this type of tragedy crushes our hope and leaves our faith staggering like a boxer who has been pummeled by his opponent. So, we might as well cry out to God and tell him about the pain and perplexity we’re feeling. It’s a cathartic and healthy process.
Weep with families who have lost loved ones.
Just as the Father is grieving and mourning the loss from this terror attack, we too should grieve and cry over this tragedy. Let’s ask the Father to break our hearts for what breaks his. If our hearts have become numb to these types of tragedies, let’s invite the Spirit to cause them to weep again. This is not the time to make this all about us or to politicize this tragedy. But, it is a time to mourn and grieve with people who lost loved ones.
Actually Pray for Manchester
No doubt, there will be many people hash tagging #prayforManchester. This is a good gesture, but let’s take time to actually pray for the city of Manchester and the families have bee impacted by the suspected terror attack. In fact, stop reading this post and pray right now. Pray for parents and families. Ask God to comfort them. Pray for police and city officials. And, pray that followers of Jesus would be light in darkness. Let’s not just hashtag #prayforManchester; let’s actually pray.
Check our hearts evil and hatred.
When we see hatred and evil like this, we should take time to check our own hearts. The heart is evil and desperately wicked. No one can fully know it (Jeremiah 17:9). Sometimes, I forget how evil sin is – in our world and my life (Mark 7:21-22). Our response to the Holy Spirit revealing evil and hatred in our hearts is to repent and submit our lives afresh to the supremacy of Jesus.
Be the voice of calm in a world of terror, evil, and hatred.
As these kinds of attacks increase in our world – I believe they will – may we practice the advice James gives in James 1:19-20: “Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to become angry. In times like these the calmest voices will win the day. The platforms that invite dialogue will prevail. The world is filled with hatred and evil; it doesn’t need more. So, let’s used our influence to give the world a preview of the peace, righteousness, and justice that we will experience in full in the kingdom of God when Jesus returns.
Believe that our Father can bring good out of this tragedy.
If he can take the ugliness of Jesus’ passion and death on the cross and bring glory to himself and salvation for humanity, then he can take this tragedy and bring about redemption. I don’t know how and when, but I have decided to fill the gap – between tragedy and redemption – with trust.
Reject fear and walk in faith.
Therefore, when fear comes, let’s continue to rehearse these words for Psalm 46:1-3:
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!