What happened at Tech this week is indeed another American tragedy. My mind follows the strings of emotion and recalls the grief of Oklahoma City, Columbine, 9/11, and other mass tragedies.
Pastors and chaplains will be sought out. Youth pastors will talk with their students. Vigils will be held. Prayers will be offered. People will seek solace in their faith, even some of those who didn’t know they had any faith. The spiritual question of the time is “Why?”
Words alone cannot communicate everything that people feel, experience, or question in their minds. People walk in a fogged over haze, and in the days to come, the full force of grief will arrive.
Even those like me who don’t know a single person at Tech still feel grief over the tragedy.
When I preach this weekend, it won’t be just an “ordinary” sermon. The world has changed again. I will be speaking to parents / grandparents of Tech students or friends.
Questions about the sovereignty of God will come. Questions about the character of God will be asked. Question about evil and questions about human responsibility will be examined.
But now is not the time for theological discourse.
We have theolgoical answers. Scripture informs us, teaches us, and guides us. But it’s not the time for logical and dry explanations.
It’s time for compassion and a ministry of presence.
But also in moments where death is real, people will consider their own mortality and how fragile life really is. It’s not the moment for forced evangelism, but rather time to listen to the Holy Spirit as we talk with people about what has happened and their own grief. Allow the Lord to prompt you and lead you as people engage you in conversation about deeply spiritual things.
Desiring God has a good list of things to remember and tactful approaches for counsel. While originally written after 9/11, many of the thoughts are applicable here.
But above all, it’s time to pray. Pray that God would give you “a word aptly spoken.” Pray for His guidance as you counsel people. Spend your own time in the Word recalling the sovereignty and love of God. Refresh your confidence in the promises of God. Ask God for wisdom as people talk with you. Ask God for healing, hope and compassion.
Let me ask you this?
Can you take some moments out of your day to listen to and pray with people? Notice.