Sunday, July 22, 2012

In the midst of tragedy, let's put the "Why?" aside.

In Aurora, CO this past weekend, a young man opened fire inside a packed movie theater.  A dozen lives were lost, and many more were wounded.  Even if this gunman offers an explanation (which he hasn't at the time of this writing), the question "Why?" will instinctively come to mind.  There's nothing wrong with asking this question, but there's nothing productive about asking it either.  The scriptures make it clear that wickedness abounds because of our rebellion against God.  In a word: SIN (Rom. 5:12, Eph. 2:2).  The answer is simple, but for most it isn't satisfying in a time like this.

Ultimately, until Christ returns and sin is no more, we will always have tragedy.  So let us not focus on asking "Why?", but instead let us ask ourselves, "Am I prepared for tragedy to strike?"  
As the hours pass, stories of bravery are emerging.  Like the one about Matt McQuinn, who along with his girlfriend's brother, shielded her from the gunman.  Matt lost his life in the process.  Or the one about Josh Nowlan, who was shot twice when he threw himself on top of his two friends.  Or how Stephanie stayed with Allie, her wounded friend, and in doing so saved her life.  Throughout His Word, God has called us to be fearless and to act with boldness and courage (Deut. 31:6, 1 Cor. 16:13, Joshua 1:9).  Have you prepared yourself to respond this way when tragedy arises?  What about how Marie, who survived the shooting along with her two teenage daughters, responded through her blog by giving praise and glory to God after experiencing such unthinkable violence and terror (Heb. 13:16, Psalm 34:1-3).  Are you prepared to proclaim God's goodness and mercy to those who question it during times like these? 

Being prepared for tragedy isn't about spending time in front of a mirror honing your interview skills in case you need to praise the Lord via news report.  It's not about learning the best way to protect someone from harm, or how to disarm the bad guy.  It's about developing your character daily.  It's about learning how to love other people the way God loves them.  It's about choosing to trust the Lord no matter what happens, and knowing the victory has already been won.  It's about doing these things purposefully so that when tragedy strikes around us, we instinctively respond with righteousness.  It's about learning to be like Christ to a suffering world.  Chances are you won’t experience tragedy to the degree of what happened in Colorado, but don’t think that excuses you from being prepared to address the lesser tragedies that happen in your circle.  We should be prepared for spiritual emergencies the same way an EMT is prepared for medial ones, or a solider is prepared to go into battle should war arise.

Lastly, in asking yourself if you're prepared for tragedy, have you made peace with God?  Have you come to the foot of the cross and humbly accepted His one and only Son, Jesus, as your substitute for your sins?  Life is a fragile thing that we ought not take for granted.  As we've seen this past weekend, your life CAN end while sitting in a movie theater, excited about seeing your favorite characters light up the silver screen.  Don't wait to prepare your soul for the unexpected day your body dies.

I encourage you to take a moment to watch this short memorial video for the 12 people who were killed in this incident and say a prayer for their families who need comfort. 

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