In times of tragedy . . .

As of this writing, almost 60 people are dead and more than 500 injured in what is now the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. 

Right now, we seem to have a lot of nothing. No answers, no rock-solid information, no comprehension of the horror that thousands faced on Sunday night. Mainly, it appears we have a lot of questions. How can evil so consume a man that he would sit in a room 32 stories above people who just wanted to hear some music and execute them? Will this ever end? What can I tell my kids? How do I stop it from happening? What can I do to help? 

I could sit here and give you answers to those questions, but right now it seems too soon. There’s a story of devastating loss in the Bible. There was a man named Job who, in a series of tragedies, lost everything he had—7 sons, 3 daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 1,000 oxen, 500 donkeys, and a large number of servants. Then, to add insult to injury, his body was covered in sores.

Do you know what his friends did? “They set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:11-13). Later we find out that they had lots of questions and conjecture, but for one week they realized that sometimes grief just needs your presence, not your comments.

Right now, this is our time to weep. This is our time to mourn. Allow yourself to feel the pain that comes when we witness terror and know that this is not how the world was created to be. Currently, almost 60 families are suffering a permanent loss. Thousands are hurting and recovering from wounds, both physical and emotional. 

Then, for those of you who believe in Jesus, realize God set you in your specific time and place to be a helper when it’s a time to heal. 

Talk to your children about the realities of tragedy. Because you know your children best, you find the words that are appropriate for them. 

Pray for the families and friends of those who died, for the injured and the ones who love them, and for the first responders who charged in to stop more horror, to protect, to rescue.

Look for opportunities to talk about another story, not of one man who sat from a spot up high and brought unimaginable suffering, but of the One who left his throne on high to live among people and suffer for them. That one man, Jesus, sacrificed his life so that—even in the middle of the darkest days—we would not grieve as those who have no hope. Instead, like the strangers who pulled people over the fences to safety after the shooting, we help the people around us by telling them of the place where there is no more mourning or sadness or tears or pain.

Linda Buxa and the whole team at Time of Grace are praying for those who were affected by this shooting. These tragedies are a reminder that we all have a specific time of grace—and the time is now to share the hope we have.