Talking about Tragedy

By Cindy Koch

It was only 6:15 in the morning when the radio clicked on in the dark, cold car. “49 confirmed dead, but that number will surely rise…” It took my breath away to hear the first audible voice of the day speaking about such horrific events that had passed as our night broke into daylight. Suddenly radio screams and tap-tap-tap gunshots pierced our sickly curious silence. Right in the middle of our daily drive to the gym, tragedy stretched it’s sting across the airwaves – and without parental permission, it touched my family car.

As horrified as I was to hear death screeching in my own car this morning, the most frightful tragedy was live in Las Vegas. All the mothers and fathers, children, lovers, and friends, overcome by an inexplicable evil. All the joyful music and happy songs, silenced by the wicked darkness. They did not deserve such a catastrophe. There was no reason for such a heartbreak. There was nothing anyone could have done to predict such a tragedy.

As my heart twisted and squeezed for the families a few hundred miles away, I looked over my shoulder at my own teenage daughter. Eyes wide, frozen stare out the foggy window, she said nothing. Tragedy, from such a distance, was having its way with her. Questions, pain, confusion, compassion, and a million other things ran through our minds that morning. We only listened to the radio, but there were no words, as we just drove.

I was so mad. Why would such an evil man do such an evil thing? How many people are suffering so terribly right now? Why do these awful stories keep coming up in the news? When will we get any better than this? Why did my sweet young daughter have to be a part of this painful world? What horrible catastrophe could happen to any of us with no warning? And where was God in all of this?

Such terribly important questions. And there are no answers. We try to offer what we don’t know to make it at least a little better. People will say things like: He was crazy, it was ISIS, people suffer if they are bad, Karma, we need to ban guns, we need to legalize guns, keep your baby girls locked away, we can explain and solve this problem. But none of these answers will change things. More murders, more hurricanes, more earthquakes, more terrorist attacks, more rapes, more abortions, more divorces, more abuse. The tragedies continue, and a good and just God seems silent.

But I couldn’t be. Looking at the terrified eyes of my daughter, I had to speak. Her unspoken questions were burning the very core of her trust. Where was she safe? Whom could she trust? In the wide world of unknowns and tragedy, what would happen to her?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Neither life nor death. God has answered. His answer is greater than a murderer, or a sinner, or a terrorist. The answer from God is love beyond the tragedies of our day. God loves, protects, saves, and ushers us into eternal life by the gift of Christ Jesus.  Christ died and rose so that tragedy is not our end.

Searching for words for the ears of my daughter, I recall a heart-wrenching scene on the silver screen, before I ever knew the joys and fears of being a mother. I watched an unnamed family, going through the depths of a monumental tragedy. Mother, Father, and children were pictured hovering on the metal bed of a little sea cabin together, crying, praying, trusting, in the life to come. Death was immanent, tragedy could not be deterred. Water poured on to the floor of the tiny room, as they grasped each other’s hands tighter, trusting in the love of God beyond even such a tragedy of the sinking Titanic.

I look over at my sad little girl who has barely tasted a tragedy. I know there will be more to come. But I know where our eternal hope rests. I know whom she can trust through life and death. Her young faith can say it in Sunday School words. Today, though, her heart hurts to say this truth she already knows. But, I’ll be completely honest. I don’t know what to say. Lord teach us to pray.

Our Father who art in heaven… You are our ever-loving Father, even when we don’t understand the tragedies of our world. You invite us to rub your promises of life eternal back into your ears, and you will hear us, your dear children.

Hallowed be Thy name… You have revealed yourself as holy over and over throughout the history of your name, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Keep your name holy among us today, by teaching your Word purely so we simply trust your promises-  right now.

Thy kingdom come… Your Spirit guards and protects us to believe we are children of the kingdom, today. Even in the middle of tragedy, even in the middle of pain, we are heirs because of your son, Jesus Christ.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven… We are cut off from the promises of your name, we forget the beauty of your kingdom. But your will is to break and hinder every evil plan – and we long desperately for that final glorious day to come. Strengthen us and keep us firm in Your Word until we die.

Give us this day our daily bread… Support our brothers and sisters in pain. Give them good friends, a shoulder of comfort, a warm meal, good sleep, excellent doctors, and restored health, and little things to remind them of your goodness.

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us… Forgive us for the anger confusion, disbelief, and hatred. We don’t deserve any of the good promises you save for us. We have not earned the beautiful things you have stored up for us. We constantly forget of the wonder of your salvation plan. Forgiven, we are covered by the blood of Jesus. Forgiven, just like those who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation…Don’t let that devil tempt us to question your eternal promises. Don’t let the world attack the mysterious works of God. Don’t let our sinful hearts yearn for an answer other than a life Jesus won for us.

But deliver us from evil… Rescue us, God our dear Father, from every tragedy. Death no longer has the final say. Neither death nor life, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.