Thousands of people lost their lives in recent world tragedies. Wars, terrorism, mass shootings, and personal tragedies seem to be coming at us in relentless waves that overwhelm us at times. Following Christ does not make us immune to such tragedies, but it does give us resources we can access in Christ.
When tragedies occur, your mind searches for an understanding of the event. You are looking for some explanation, some understanding of why this took place, and often there are just no explanations.
In James 1:5 we are instructed, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God….”
Here are six practical steps to help us navigate through the unexplainable tragedies of life:
Experience Your Grief
You cannot avoid grief. You must go through grief. Somewhere in your mind will be fear, anger, worry, depression, and resentment over your loss. If you try to avoid that grief, it will come out sideways. If you don’t talk it out, you will take it out on yourself and others.
Receive From Others
Galatians 6:2 states that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens.” Isolation during a crisis is a big mistake. It is natural to want to avoid others when you are hurting. Please remember that God designed you to live in community. You need other people for their perspective, their support, their encouragement, their presence, and their prayers.
Refuse To Be Bitter
The decision is yours when you go through grief. Am I going to let this make me a bitter person or a better person? This verse says you can choose, but you can’t have both. Job 21:25 (GNT), “Others have no happiness at all; they live and die with bitter hearts.” If you choose bitterness, you are not hurting anyone but yourself. You cannot be happy and bitter at the same time. You can either choose to trust God to get you through this horrible event or you can choose to be self-focused, self-absorbed, and self-reliant. YOUR LIFE IS NOT OVER! You are still here, and God still has a purpose for you.
Focus On God’s Goodness
Gratitude carries grief to its healthy conclusion. If you want to grieve in a healthy way, start making a list of all the good things in your life. Much of my grief is determined by the things on which I focus my time and energy. If my focus is on my loss, it will prolong my grieving. If I focus on the goodness and character of God, I will experience His peace, comfort, love, and grace.
Allow Disasters to Clarify Your Values
When tragedy strikes, we really do find out what is important in life. The things we wrongly value are put back in their right places. The high value of eternal things comes into clear view. Tragedy and loss can be useful tools that bring clarity to our values.
Depend On Christ
“Be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The LORD is my helper, I will not fear, what can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6
Don’t neglect the Word of God (take time to read the Word of God), the people of God (take time to be with the people of God), the Spirit of God (take time for prayer), or the purposes of God (take time to reflect on His purposes for you). The Lord Jesus Christ is ready to help you. All you have to do is ASK.
Pastors, you do not have to walk through grief alone. We are here to help you navigate the difficult challenges of grief in life and ministry. Reach out to us at careforpastors.org.