The aftermath of tragedy

When tragedy strikes, the ripple effect lasts far beyond what we can see. Multitudes are impacted, from family to co-workers to pastors to neighbors. Pain lingers far beyond the initial crisis moment. The ripples move outward.

Every day, somewhere nearby, tragedy is occurring for someone in a very personal and painful way. This may be a new cancer diagnosis, a broken engagement, an earthquake, or a shooting.

Last night here in Florence, SC, tragedy occurred. Kids were held hostage, several police and civilians were wounded, and a police officer was killed. We are a small town. We are all impacted. But how do we respond? How do we handle the aftermath of a tragedy?

We cry out in lament to our God, our ultimate hope and our ultimate healer.

This is not a time for fake words or false hope. This is a time to fall down before our Rock, acknowledge our pain and fear and grief, and to cling to his refuge. God weeps with us and it is healthy and healing to allow ourselves to grieve. Pray through Psalms 62 or 142. Re-read the gospels and remind yourself that Jesus endured tragedy on our behalf, yet He is alive today. He has overcome the pain of this world. He is our hope.

We draw close to our loved ones and hold them tight.

It is natural to worry about our specific loved ones, their health and safety and wellbeing, when tragedy strikes. We need to comfort them and receive comfort from them. Allow yourself time and space to be with those who bring you peace. Check in with friends and family and tell them that you love them.

We enter into the pain of those around us.

When Jesus interacted with people experiencing a tragedy, he did not lecture or preach. Instead, he loved. He wept. He had compassion on the brokenhearted. He sat with hurting people and cared for them. The church is Jesus’ body today, and we are his hands and feet to the community around us. Comfort, care for, and encourage your neighbors.

We listen and pray with patience through the long journey ahead.

Tragedy never ends quickly. The media outlets may leave and the event may wrap up, but the impact ripples onward. This is when the church is needed most, to walk patiently along the long road of suffering with those who are weary and hurting. Continue to intercede with prayer, help, encouragement, and – most importantly – patient love and faithful presence.

Written by Jessica Hayes
iHope Executive Director

We are praying for our Florence community, particularly the first responders and the grieving families. Please pray with us. Please care for yourself, care for your family and friends, and care for your community. At iHope, we are here if you need us. Free crisis counseling appointments are available today and tomorrow, and further support will be offered in the weeks ahead.