Posts Tagged ‘Tragedy’

Better-NotBitterNone of us have the luxury of experiencing life without some bad things happening from time to time. Granted, some people seem to have a dark cloud that hovers over them a little more frequently than the rest of us, but all of us probably have more negative experiences than we’d like. (Do we want any negative experiences? I don’t think so.)

You can tell a lot about someone by how he/she reacts to those less-than-pleasant and even tragic events of life. Some may seem to surrender all hope for the future and forever consider themselves victims with no way out. Others may fail to even acknowledge the negative and go on rather blindly choosing not even to notice or react to events. Still others may hover somewhere in between the first two by acknowledging and dealing with the negative, but then making every effort to move past it and move forward with life, having learned from the experience in some way. It’s the old “lemons into lemonade” response.

I tend to be more optimistic than not the majority of the time. There are various reasons for that:

  • Life is more enjoyable focusing on the positive than on the negative.
  • I don’t like being around people who are overly negative, so I don’t want to be like that.
  • My Christian faith provides an underlying hope for this life and the next that surpasses anything temporarily negative I experience.

We can’t always choose our circumstances in life, but we can make the most of wherever we are. We can and do choose the attitudes we carry in circumstances – for good or bad. We have the option of learning from experiences, choosing to leave the past in the past, and building on our new situation for the future.

As for the attitudes we respond with when bad things happen, doesn’t it make a lot more sense to respond by trying to be a better person as a result and by trying to make life better because of what happened instead of being bitter and living with the ongoing drain on life, emotions, and health that bitterness yields? I’m not claiming it’s always easy to do that, nor am I presuming that it is possible merely through one’s own strength to do so, but I’m certain it’s the more promising path.

When bad things happen, be better – not bitter.

Oklahoma Tornado SurvivorIn the midst of tragic events like this week’s tornado destruction in Oklahoma, there is always much that tugs at the heart.  We ache for the families of those who have lost loved ones.  We shake our heads in disbelief at the sight of the destruction, most of us unable to comprehend what it is like to have all of one’s belongings gone in a moment.  Those with small children hold their kids a little tighter before putting them to bed, shedding tears of compassion for those unable to hold their children any more.  We feel a little guilty that our lives go on with relative ease as so many others struggle to literally and figuratively pick up the pieces.

What can we do?  We can pray for those impacted.  We can give financially to help meet their current and future needs.  Some can go and give of their time and energy to demonstrate love and compassion for fellow human beings.  It won’t restore life that is lost or heal broken hearts, but it is the best we can do when events of this magnitude happen.

We can also rejoice in small victories – in lives spared in the midst of the rubble, in unusual circumstances that kept some people from where they would normally have been at that time that would have resulted in more injury or death, and in the touching stories that bring a lump in the throat such as when a woman’s beloved dog is found alive (pictured above).  We can be thankful that so many instinctively start helping others tirelessly.  We can be glad that in a nation where serious divisions exist, there is still a basic human compassion that overflows from the majority in times like this.

If your neighbor hurts, it matters not what political, philosophical, religious or social differences you have.   It only matters that someone is in need and you can do something about it.

Who is my neighbor?  Today, a lot of people in Oklahoma are my neighbors, even though I’m in Louisville.  They’re your neighbors, too.  Love them and show them you care in every way that you can.

Dig DeeperAs the nation deals with yesterday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the long process of grieving begins.  I appreciate stories from antiquity that tell of allowing long periods of mourning – a month or so – in recognition that grief isn’t something that we turn on and then turn off like a switch mere days later.  You probably feel a little bit different today than you did yesterday, and different today than you will tomorrow, but you and I will be impacted for a long while to come.

Part of the process that helps me deal with such tragedy is to dig deeper into the subject through the writings of trusted sources.  To that end, I have read a number of articles written on the subject in the past 24 hours by Christian leaders more experienced and wiser than me.  I started accumulating them and posting them as comments to yesterday’s lesson and will continue to add others there as I find them.  For the sake of convenience and to reinforce the point of today’s lesson, I offer them in the list below as well.

1. Billy Graham: “Suffering: Why Does God Allow it?

2. Russell Moore: “School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare

3. David Platt: “The Gospel and Newtown

4. John Piper: “How Does Jesus Comes to Newtown?

5. John Piper: “A Lesson For All From Newtown

6. John Piper: “How Shall We Minister to People After the World Trade Tower Terrorism of September 11, 2001?

7. Al Mohler: “Rachel Weeping for Her Children — The Massacre in Connecticut

8. Douglas Wilson: “And Slew the Little Childer

There is much that goes through our thoughts and emotions in times like these.  It helps not to travel that path alone.  Discuss it with others.  Bare your soul to God.  Seek and glean the wisdom of others to help bring clarity of thought and to try to make sense out of the senseless.

Leap year lesson #349 is Dig deeper for understanding.