Like it or not, tragedy is part of life. We’ve seen and heard the tragic stories from Oklahoma and other parts of the midwest as tornadoes wrecked destruction, injury, and death. In Houston four firemen lose their lives while searching for people to save in a 5-alarm motel fire. An airplane with 239 passengers disappears, a ferry loaded with high school students capsizes, a teenager walks into an elementary school with a gun and kills innocent children. The question of “Why?” always comes to mind. Why would a loving God allow such destruction, such heartache? As a former elementary school teacher I was especially touched by the deaths of seven students in Moore, OK. and the deaths of so many first grade students in Newton, CN. How many times have I spent time in a hallway during a severe storm drill or followed the procedures for a practice intruder alert?  My thoughts went out to those teachers who took it upon themselves to protect those in their care, to the parents who had sent their precious child to school that morning with no thought they would not return. Why did God let this happen?

Recently I sat in a worship service as our pastor spoke of peoples’ reactions to such tragedies. His sermon stated there were two choices….retreat or engage. There are those who retreat or run away from the question “Why did God let this happen?” They hear the news, they may even think ‘that’s awful’, but then they go about business as usual. Others decide to deal with the tragedy by throwing themselves into relief efforts. They donate food, clothes, money, time.  By staying busy they don’t deal with the emotional aspects brought on by the tragedy. Those thoughts are pushed to the back of their minds.

The other choice is to engage God. This does not mean simply saying “It’s God will, He’s in control.” Just as there are stages of grief there are stages of engagement. God is big enough and strong enough to face our strongest emotions….anger, frustration, fear, sorrow. He is not intimidated by our questions of why, how could you let this happen, where were you? God would rather we engage Him in anger than ignore Him. When my husband was struck head-on by an 18-wheeler, suffered traumatic injuries resulting in 34 surgeries, extended hospital stays, and years of recovery I found a new relationship with God, one that freed me to honestly talk to God. Some of my best conversations…prayers….began with me yelling at God. The Bible is full of examples of those who let God know exactly how they felt. As time passed I always found a peace, maybe not a direct answer, but peace in the knowledge He was in control and more importantly that He cared. God hurts when His children hurt.

So the decision is, will you retreat or engage God when tragedy strikes?





A Walk Through the Dark