Episode 082 | How to Respond to Tragedy
Why does God allow terrible things like the shooting in Las Vegas happen? How should (or shouldn’t) we respond? What’s the responsibility of the church in times of crisis and pain? Listen in as Pastor Matt, Justin and Stephanie answer your questions about how and why we should respond to tragedy.
Helpful messages from Pastor Matt:
Episode 72 of The Debrief: But Why?
Conversation guides for talking to your children about tragedies
This Week's Topics
3:56 - “Why would a mass shooting like the one in Vegas happen in the first place?”
It’s a natural human response to say ‘Why’? A lot of us ask ‘Why would God allow this?’ but we need to ask ‘Why would humans do this?’. This is our problem. What this event reveals is the depths of the depravity of the human heart. As it stands now is there’s no religious motive, no grudge, no statement, no “why” other than this human being gave his life over to an act of pure evil. The reality is, evil doesn’t need a motivation it just needs an opportunity. The problem with modern culture is it devalues people and the reason we value people is because they’re created in God’s image. People blame God for their choices and behaviors but no one is more responsible for your life than you. God wants us to choose him and to choose good.
13:13 - Where is God in a situation like the Vegas shooting? How can God allow innocent people to die?
The Bible says in 1 John 4.8: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” then in 1 Corinthians 13.5 it says “Love does not demand its own way.” God is drawing us to himself, but ultimately God has to abstain from revealing all who he is, because God’s presence violates choice. When God is present it’s overwhelming. God doesn’t want to overwhelm us he wants to woo us. It’s a multifaceted, complicated issue. We don’t need any more hate, we need to bring people together.
22:37 - How should we respond to the terrorism in Las Vegas?
Americans think they have to give their opinion on everything. One way Christians mess up is they get involved with politics and become polarized. We need to lead people to the cross where they understand their sin. We need to get on our knees and say, “God are you calling me to say something?” We don’t have to say something about everything. We have to be very strategic and very wise. If God is calling you to speak out politically, then yes, speak out. But you should do so as it says in 1 Peter 3.15 and give a reason for the hope that is in you and you should do so in a gentle and respectful way. We don’t need to make political statements, we need to grieve as a nation. The conclusion is, this is not a God problem, this is an us problem.
32:24 - It can sometimes seem as though prayer is a passive activity. Why is prayer an important response when tragedy happens?
An act of human evil needs an act of God. We want to ask God to intervene and to bring his peace into our pain. Because we’re hurting and the only person that can touch a soul is God.
32:52 - With what recently happened in Vegas and other events in our country, how should we be praying for the US? What specifically should we be praying for with all the shootings, hate, etc?
We need to stop praying, ‘God bless America,” and start praying, ‘God have mercy on America.” America’s greatest enemy is America. These shootings are too regular. There’s something deeply wrong with our culture, we have devalued God and in turn devalued each other. We have identified the big picture and we haven’t specified the real picture: that we are no longer a righteous nation. We need to be righteous and live right. Micah 6.8 says, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” That’s righteousness.
39:27 - In his speech responding to the Las Vegas shooting, President Donald Trump quoted Psalm 34.18 which says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” What does this verse mean and how does it relate to tragedy?
We need to understand the context of the verse. Starting in Psalm 34.15 God is talking about a specific group of people. God loves all people, but he watches over his children. God is exposing our lack of faith and events of tragedy and terror do that. We live in a culture that does not value Jesus. The one who died for you on the cross is being mocked. Look at the history of the globe, wherever Christianity has flourished, the culture has thrived. Human depravity is a problem all over the world because it’s a problem with human beings.
49:15 - Everything is crazy. What is the church’s obligation in times like this?
It’s our responsibility to point people to Jesus. The history of the world is rape, war and injustice. It’s absolutely terrible and God has said that is wrong. People who don’t believe in God are their own God, they decide what’s right and wrong based on their limited experiences. People who don’t read the Bible have their opinions, that’s their Bible. We need to go back to the word of God to understand the methods of God. 2 Peter 3.9 says, “The Lord is not slow about keeping His promise as some people think. He is waiting for you. The Lord does not want any person to be punished forever. He wants all people to be sorry for their sins and turn from them.” Oftentimes it is the storm in our life that allows faith to be awakened in our life. We can’t bring ourselves together, but God can.