/ Jared Olivetti

Responding to Tragedy

How do we--how can we--respond to such tragedy as the murder of children and their teachers? How do we even think through such horror? I'm not sure there's _one _perfect answer to that question. Rather, I think Jesus shows and teaches us many ways in which we can respond. Here are a few that are running through my head this morning.

  • Pray. Of course prayer must be our first and last action today, so let's pray. For days like today, the Psalms teach us a form of prayer called lamenting (see Pss. 42 and 60), which is simply grieving in the presence of God. As we lament we can pray for those who mourn, pray for the comfort of the gospel, for the peace that passes understanding.
  • Repent. When we see the sin of murder so graphically displayed, our judgment against it is swift and merciless and absolutely correct. But the voice of the Spirit through the Scriptures would remind us that end of all sin is death and that we are each guilty of murder through our own anger (Mt. 5:22). The sins of others should lead us to find and kill those same sins that continue to reside in our hearts.
  • Study. What more reason do we need to return to God's Word and study for understanding, study for light and hope? I read on Facebook of several families who took the opportunity to talk through Psalm 10 last night. In my own devotions yesterday I happened to be reading the story of Cain and Abel. There are many other places in God's Word which give light to our understanding of evil or remind us of God's justice and the hope of heaven. But it would be easy to let these tragedies slip by without ever opening God's Word and striving to think God's thoughts after Him. As you study, sing God's Psalms together, His given hymnbook that is uniquely suited to worship amidst tragedy.
  • Evangelize. As John Piper so wonderfully wrote yesterday, "Mass murder is why Jesus came into the world the way he did." While our nation experiences tragedy after tragedy, will we continue to sit on the sidelines and wait for better opportunities to share the hope of the gospel? Perhaps we feel that evangelism at a time like this is distasteful in its opportunism--but that's only true if we're sharing propaganda designed to get people into our little club. If evangelism is the sharing of true hope, the shattering of evil's power at the cross of Christ, the promise of eternal life winning over death...why would we shrink away from bringing to our neighbors, to a nation, who may be a little more open to it today than they were yesterday? Don't be afraid of the hard questions--God isn't.
  • Evangelize our children. Parents, let's stop waiting to bring the gospel to our children daily, faithfully and passionately. Let's make family worship the priority that it is. And in every Psalm that we sing, every verse that we read, let's bring Jesus to our children and our children to Jesus that they might be saved. To delay our covenant evangelism is to presume upon God that there will always be another day.
  • Defend. Many have spoken appreciatively of our President's speech yesterday. It was deeply felt and compassionate. Some of us who appreciated it also long for him to see the hypocrisy of his defense of abortion. Even as he wiped away tears reflecting on the death of children whose lives were in front of them, we couldn't help but cry aloud for his lack of extending such deep compassion to the millions of children whose lives have also been cut short with the blessing of his administration. May God see fit to extend the President's compassion to the unborn.
  • Hope. This world is not our home. As beautiful and wonderful as it is, it is a broken shadow of the glory waiting for us. There will be a last time for everything in this broken world. So let's reset our hope on heaven, let's re-fix our gaze on Jesus Christ, let's measure this life by the light of eternity, let's wait for Jesus to wipe away our tears, let us live in hope.
Jared Olivetti

Jared Olivetti

I'm a pastor at Immanuel RPC in West Lafayette, Indiana. God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, six kids and a loving church family.

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