Initial Thoughts When Tragedy Strikes

A few personal thoughts and reflections, having just learned, that a young child at my local church died in a tragic accident just hours ago.

Initial Thoughts When Tragedy Strikes
Photo by Daiga Ellaby / Unsplash
Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties. — C.H. Spurgeon

This morning, in the middle of my clinic workday, I received a confirmatory text from my pastor that just hours ago, a family in our church lost their 1 year old daughter in a tragic accident. My initial emotions were shock, confusion, and profound grief.

And as I pause to pray for this family, our elders, and our church, several thoughts came to mind.

1. Life Is a Vapor

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (Jm 4:13–14)

Just last night, I told my two older sons that we don't know what tomorrow brings. We cannot assume that we will live 70 or 80 years. My boys can't presume they will have their father for a long time. Our life can be taken away in a moment's notice. I could not imagine that is exactly what happened that same night to Baby L.

2. Death Is a Tutor

Better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting
Because that is the end of all mankind,
And the living puts this in his heart. (Ec 7:2)

Life is full of precious memories: graduations, weddings, and the birth of a newborn child. But so often it's the times of mourning at a funeral that are most instructive. For it is the mourning of someone who has died that reminds us amidst this busyness of life, that is "the end of all mankind."

3. God Does Not Withhold Good

For Yahweh God is a sun and shield;
Yahweh gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk blamelessly. (Ps 84:11)

Whenever I hear the news of someone gone too soon, I often ask the question, "Why?" Why would God allow this tragedy to strike? I can only rest in His Word that God is a provider, protector, always gracious and good. His ways are higher than my ways, and I can be confident that toward His beloved children, God never withholds good.

4. Weep with Those Who Weep

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep, (Ro 12:15)

I texted my wife to confirm the news of this tragedy. Then I started to think what the father and mother, brothers and sisters, must be thinking and feeling. They must be weeping. And our church must weep with them.

5. Only God Brings Genuine Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Co 1:3–5)

There is no comfort in this life outside of God. God "comforts us in all our afflictions," and He often comforts us using Christians around us. But even if no one fully understands the grief that we bear, we have our perfect high priest, Christ Jesus the Suffering Servant, who does.

A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears. — C. H. Spurgeon

So I pray that God will help us to appreciate this brevity of life, to look at death as a tutor that gives us perspective, to trust that He never withholds His good, to weep with those who weep, and to rest assured that He will grant all of us true comfort, often using others, when tragedy strikes.

My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. (1 Pe 5:12)