How Should Christians Respond to Tragedy in the News?

Do you feel the weight of tragic events in the news? How should you respond? How do you still keep your joy and hope in Christ?

How Should Christians Respond to Tragedy in the News?

It's been almost two weeks since the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. Turn on the TV or look at social media for two minutes and you'll see this disclaimer: "Caution: The following images might be disturbing."

So how should we respond? While I'll avoid offering my political commentary on global events, there are a few helpful choices Christians can make.

Byer's Choices

Choice #1 | Lament Before Giving an Opinion

In Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, author and Pastor Mark Vrogop makes several helpful statements about lament. He says,

  • "Lament is how you live between the poles of a hard life and trusting in God’s sovereignty."
  • "Lament is the honest cry of a hurting heart wrestling with the paradox of pain and the promise of God’s goodness."
  • "Lament is the language of a people who believe in God’s sovereignty but live in a world with tragedy."

Looking back on the global tragedies we've endured over the past ten years, I've realized many Christians (including myself) aren't very good at lament. We're quick to pick sides instead of empathizing with the hurting.

Choice #2 | Condemn Evil

Because we're so entrenched in tribalism, sometimes we find it difficult to condemn evil. In the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, I was disappointed to see the number of my conservative Christian friends who immediately rushed to make his death a political issue.

On the other side, I've watched many who were quick to support organizations such as Black Lives Matter be eerily silent after the massacre of more than 1,400 Israelis. And many who said "ALL Lives Matter" language was offensive go on to use similar statements to avoid empathizing with their Jewish brothers and sisters.

Evil is evil. And we should not hesitate to condemn it, regardless if it suits our political agendas.

Choice #3 | Be Horrified, But Not Shaken

I had few words following Hamas' attack. Watching the images of grandmothers being murdered, women being captured, hospitals bombed, and kids being abused is horrifying. And it should be. Evil should horrify us and the moment it doesn't is the moment we've lost sight of God's intentions for this world.

But we have to merge our horror with the Apostle Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 

In the days of Paul and Jesus, the equivalent of Hamas (the Roman Empire) was in power. But still, there was no reason to despair. The same is true for us today.

Choice #4 | Remember You Were Made for a Different World

When we look at the news, it's easy to feel this world is out of control. We feel helpless in the face of such evil. But part of this helplessness should serve as a valuable reminder.

C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

So take all that pain, anger, and uncertainty you feel today and channel it into a deeper longing for an eternity with Jesus.

Choice #5 | Reach for Joy

If you're like me, you feel almost guilty to look at the horrors in the news and then go play with your kids. But Hebrews 12:1-2 says,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

In Can't Steal My Joy, my friend Bekah Bowman writes, "I’ve found that joy means being fully present in a moment, fully feeling the pain we are in, and still finding the courage to claim thankfulness."

What a powerful reminder.

So what about you? Do you struggle to be joyful when events in the news are terrifying? How do you reach for joy?

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