In the Midst of Tragedy, Where Do You Run?
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

In the Midst of Tragedy, Where Do You Run?

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“That’s what Americans do in times of crisis,” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, a Boston mayoral candidate, said. “We come together and we help one another. Moments like these, terrible as they are, don’t show our weakness, they show our strength.” (Source: ABC News)

I don’t know about you, but I’m hurting.  It’s as though we are just beginning the healing process from the painful and tragic headlines that have consistently assailed our senses over the past year, when even more heartrending stories and images darkly greet our days.

Yet I wholeheartedly agree with the quote – don’t you?  Terrible moments like the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer plant explosion in West Texas immediately demonstrate the nature of what truly dwells in the soul of people.

And nowhere does that nature surface more visibly than in the images of people’s reactions in the moment of crisis.  In West, there were a few people who felt justified in looting and taking advantage of a horrific situation. In Boston, many folks ran the opposite direction when the explosions occurred – and honestly – who could blame them?

But what inspired me and sparked a kindle of hope in the grief of these calamities were the accounts of the small community in Texas coming together as a family to carry each other through the loss.  And perhaps even more heartening was the picture I have imbedded in my mind of people actually sprinting towards the blast areas in Boston regardless of the danger, because their sole focus was on helping the broken.

As I pray for the communities of Boston and West, Texas, it occurred to me that I am not only capable of – but actively engaged in – both kinds of reacting seen in these two areas impacted by calamity.  I have never been around a terrible explosion and given a choice to run or help, but I am constantly surrounded by people who have been blindsided by disappointment, loss, grief, and the negative consequences of their choices.

And so what is my nature?

Sometimes I run…not physically – but emotionally I pull away and dwell on my own contentment – afraid to enter their pain because it might get messy and uncomfortable.  Even worse, there are times when I feel justified in “looting” the situation by selfishly focusing on what I might gain from other’s losses.

And if you are honest, you and I are very much alike.  It is in our nature to be looters and abdicators when pain is present, but Jesus clearly calls us to a different standard:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free, 
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come”  (Luke 4:18-19).

If we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, then these verses clearly lay out our job description.  We are to be the “first responders” in a world constantly burdened by the fallout of a fallen condition.  There are people all around who are impoverished physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  There are captives and prisoners who have been enslaved by abuse from others and harmful choices of their own.

And there are many who are blind to the life saving message that Jesus Christ is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  His offer of forgiveness is freely extended, but so many cannot see the light of the gospel because they are bound in the chains of their darkness and wounded by the detonations that accompany our journey through a sinful world.

If you want to be the hands and feet of Christ, you must take seriously the high calling of engaging in the lives of the wounded and broken.  Open your spiritual eyes and ears and identify friends who may look OK on the outside, but on the inside they are dealing with crippling pain.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that “someone else” will come along and help, because you may be the only Jesus some will ever encounter.  His Spirit is upon you, and He has anointed you in THE Cause of making disciples.

In the midst of tragedy, where do you run?

Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action

This week, try to refocus your attention beyond your own needs and concerns, and pray for insight into helping those around you who are wounded and in need of attention.  Pray that your efforts will result in opening a door to share the gospel message that is the ultimate rescue!

Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause

Pray: Jesus, thank you for picking us up when our sins and rebellion crippled and wounded us beyond hope.  Give us eyes to see where people are hurting and how we can reach them in Your name and for the sake of THE Cause of making disciples.

Read: Proverbs 24:11. Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

Get:  Never Beyond Repair. Check out Everfound’s song Never Beyond Repair. Share it with a friend who is broken and hurting this week and needs the hope and rescue found in Jesus.

Youth Leader’s Discussion Questions: 

Big Idea:

We are surrounded by people who have gone through tragedy, and the question is: Where do we run when we face them?

Key Scripture:

Luke 4:18-19

ALT-ernative Questions:

  • Do you think you would have run away or towards the blast in Boston?  Why?
  • How do you normally deal with hurting people?
  • What would it look like for you to apply Luke 4:18-19 in your life?
  • What other ways could you put this Soul Fuel into practice?

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