Five Ways We Should Respond To Tragedy – Words to Live by
By Pastor Lonnie G. McCowan
1. RELEASE YOUR GRIEF.
When you go through a tragedy, which is inevitably going to happen, the first thing you need to do is release your grief. Why? Because tragedy always creates strong emotions. We don’t always know what to do with our feelings in a tragedy. If you don’t deal with them, but instead stuff them deep inside, your recovery from a crisis always takes a lot longer than it should. See some people are stuffers. When they have emotions, they don’t know how to handle so they deny them, they ignore them, and they push them down. In fact many people use God as an excuse for this, believing that God wants everybody to have a happy face all the time. But real life isn’t always happy. God doesn’t expect you to be smiling all the time.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” In other words, it’s okay to grieve. Face your feelings. Don’t repress them by pushing them down or rehearse them by repeating them over and over. You release your emotions to God. If you don’t talk it out, you’ll take it out on yourself or somebody else.
2. RECEIVE FROM OTHERS
The Bible says, “Carry each other’s burdens… By helping each other with your troubles, you obey the Law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2 NCV) It is a big mistake to isolate yourself from others when you’re going through a crisis. Our tendency is to want to be by ourselves, but you need other people in a tragedy. You need their perspective, you need their support, you need their encouragement, and you just need their presence. To make it through a crisis, we need not only the promises of God; we need the people of God.
3. REFUSE TO GET BITTER
There’s absolutely no correlation in life between your experiences and your happiness. I’ve seen people who had absolutely the worst experiences in life – things that would shock every one of us, but they maintained this happy, cheerful, positive attitude, because happiness is a choice. You’re about as happy as you choose to be.
As a pastor I’ve seen people who had every right in the world to whine and who chose not to do so. Happiness is a choice. You must refuse to be bitter, because bitterness always hurts you. It never changes anything. Blaming others never ever changes anything. It only makes you feel worse. How do you keep from being bitter when the inevitable tragedies of life come?
- You accept what cannot be changed.
- You focus on what’s left, not what’s lost.
- You live one day at a time.
- You believe things will get better
4. REMEMBER WHAT IS IMPORTANT.
Disasters have a way of clarifying our values and pointing out what matters and what really doesn’t matter. Jesus said, “Life is not measured by how much one owns.” Lk 12:15 (NCV) Don’t confuse your net worth with yourself worth. Don’t confuse your possessions with your purpose in life. Don’t confuse what you’re living on with what you’re living for. A man’s life does not consist of what he possesses. What matters are relationships. Can you lose a home? Yes. Can you lose a career? Yes. Can you lose a marriage? Yes. Can you lose your health? Yes. Can you lose your youthful beauty? Yes. Can you lose your relationship with God? No.
5. RELY ON CHRIST.
Christians get to approach tragedy differently than the rest of the world. We get to rely completely on Christ. We get to have hope. But how? By intentionally leaning on Christ for stability, listening to Christ for direction, and looking to Christ for salvation. He is our Rock, our Shelter, our Great Shepherd, our Hiding Place. Suffering and tragedy are inevitable in a sinful world, but Christ makes all the difference. Decide that you will rely on Him even in the darkest of hours of your life. The light will shine again.
Lonnie G. McCowan is pastor at The Miracle Center of Ventura, in Ventura, CA. He can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.miraclecenterventure.com.