Over the last 48 hours our world has experienced tragic events. Some of them occurred further from my home (China), others were somewhat close (Connecticut) and even others have occurred around our own city. These events are a humble reminder of how broken, hurt and distressed the world we live in really is.
I'm reminded of the example of Christian brothers and sisters who responded to the outbreak of the black plague in England in the 1300s. Panic, fear and desperation motivated many English residents to flee from infected areas leaving the sick and dying to fend for themselves. A few brave souls, God-fearing, Jesus radicals, responding to the tragic invitation this pandemic inflicted upon their country by choosing to care for those who were in need. These individuals chose to "sit in the ashes" alongside of their hurting peers similar to the initial way Job's friends responding to his pain in the biblical account bearing his name.
Our world is different today than it was 48 hours ago. This difference has provided us with the opportunity to grieve with those who grieve, to fight for and pursue justice, and to demonstrate that God's grace is sufficient at all times and in all ways. As you, your family and your friends continue to process recent world events, here are three suggestions that may help you to do so:
1. Communication - It is absolutely vital that each of us take the time to share with others how these events have affected us. It's as critically important that we provide our peers, family and others a listening ear as well. In times of distress, it's often better to extend a listening ear to others while attempting to be present with them as they grieve. Create the space and the time to communicate with others about these recent world events. Don't pretend they don't affect you or that they didn't happen. Communicate with one another. There is great comfort found in a grieving and loving community.
2. Emotion - It's ok to feel. This might be a more natural response for most females, but it's also important for us males to be mindful of. We should feel different things as we are made aware of tragic events. Don't be afraid of what you feel, but take the time to share with others how you are processing what has happened. Feelings don't make us weak, they remind us that we are alive and that we have a voice we can lend to others in times of despair.
3. Courage - Find the courage to grieve, to feel and to communicate...but also find the courage to pursue change. Not all tragic events can be avoided, but there are times when our foolish choices inflict hurt and pain on others in our world. Courage invites us to make wise decisions with how we grieve, how we love and how we live. Ask God's Spirit to speak to you in this season. Perhaps there is a change He is inviting you towards as a result of becoming more aware of the brokenness that exists in all of humanity.
We are created to be interconnected with others. It's in times of tragedy that we realize how great our need for community truly is. May you find renewed hope, perspective and life amongst those whom you call friends and family in this season of life on planet earth.