Answers To Questions In The Wake Of Tragedy

Hey everyone. Pastor Josh here and I wanted to take just a few minutes to say a couple of words about the recent tragedy in Las Vegas. I’ve seen two questions repeated on social media and in the news. The two questions are “why” and “what’s next?”

Let’s start with “why” — why did this happen? When I hear people ask this question I think they mean something more than “what caused this man to do this?” That may be part of what they’re asking, but I think all of us want a deeper answer to the reason behind these tragedies.

Over the past few days we’ve seen many answers to this why question. Lots of blaming has gone on. Republicans blame Democrats. Democrats blame Republicans. Hollywood blames the NRA. Others blame Hollywood and the violence they depict in movies. The blaming just goes on and on. Everyone wants to know why and they want the reason to be someone else’s fault.

But as followers of Jesus we should ask what does the Bible say is the reason why? And the Bible’s answer is that this world is broken — it’s not the way God created it to be — and the reason for this brokenness is sin. Your sin. My sin. Our sin. We’re to blame.

As a pastor, what makes these events all the more tragic is that I see people scraping for answers to this why question while ignoring the all to seemingly obvious conclusion:  Something’s wrong with us. All of us. None of us get a pass.

In the history of humanity, we’ve never solved this problem. Things only seem to get worse. And not even our American ingenuity has seemed to fix us. And this answer — to the why question — isn’t popular. No one wants to believe it. No one wants to hear it. We don’t want to be the reason. We want someone else to blame.

But why do these tragic events happen? Because of us.

So if that’s the answer to why these things happen, what do we do? What’s next?

I think when people ask “what’s next” they mean “what’s the next tragedy coming our way?” And that’s the heart of the problem, right? We want to know why these things happen and then we want to know when the next one’s coming because we know that — no matter why — we’re not going to fix this. This problem’s too big for us to figure out.

So what’s next? What’s next for those of us who believe.

1. First, we weep with those who weep. This is a tragedy and we don’t downplay it. It’s horrific and it should grieve us. The sudden loss of life, the confusion, the anxiety, feelings of being unsafe, and all of the unanswered questions can leave us in a state of deep grief. And that’s where we begin. We weep with those who weep.

2. Second, we love. Hug your spouse. Tell your kids you love them. Call mom and dad and tell them you miss them. Allow this tragedy to wake you up to just how uncertain life is so you take a hard look at what’s been most important to you lately and what should be most important to you.

3. Third, we pray. As followers of Jesus we’re commanded to pray. Now prayer gets a bad rap in the midst of tragedies — we Americans like to do things and prayer seems like a waste of time to many — but if you believe in Jesus, then prayer is your strongest weapon in times like these. To mock prayer or to believe that prayer is a waste of time in moments like these is to live more like those who don’t believe in Jesus than those who do.

4. Fourth, we act. Right now, being so far from Las Vegas, we’re still learning how we can physically help. As of yesterday, the biggest need was still blood donations — which is a very specific local need. If you’re looking for a way to help the victims, one thing you can do is make a financial donation to the GoFundMe page that’s been set up by the Chair of the Clark County Commission. Just search for “Las Vegas Victims’ Fund” at GoFundMe.com and you should be able to find it.

5. Fifth, we believe. As a pastor, I’ve heard people say — even Christians say — I’m not really into theology. Let me tell you something. Everyone’s a theologian and right now — especially in the midst of tragedy — what you believe is rising to the surface. It’s why you’re doing what you do right now.

Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He’s in control of all things? Do you believe that sin is real? Do you believe that people are naturally good and they’re are a few really bad people out there or do you believe that no one is good — which is what the Bible says.

All of us are theologians. And we must read, study, memorize, meditate on, apply, and hear the Bible preached so that what we believe will give us a hope no matter what life brings our way. Jesus said that there would be people who believe, but then the worries and tragedies of life would take away what they believe. They’re theology wasn’t solid enough to stand on when life got hard. What about you? How firm is the foundation of faith you claim to have?

And finally, in November, we’re going to do an entire series where we’ll be looking at some tough questions like these. Like what do you do when life’s out of your control? When you get that unexpected doctor’s report, phone call with tragic news, find out you’re losing your job, or that your spouse is leaving you? Is there hope for when life’s out of control?

Another question we’ll look at is what do you do when it seems like God has distanced Himself? When it feels like God has abandoned you? When it feels like — just when you need Him most — God has disappeared.

We’ll also look at how we should live knowing that life is short. Unexpected things can happen in an instance that rob of us of the future we thought we had. We all have a limited number of days left to live — so how then should we live?

Tragic events like these that our nation has experienced recently make these questions more relevant than ever. We have an opportunity to give a Christian perspective to what’s wrong with the world. So mark your calendars for November 4th and 5th when we’ll have a frank discussion about the brokenness we’re experiencing as a nation and world.

The good news of our Christian faith is that though we weep with those who weep, we don’t weep as those who have no hope. For we do have hope because of what Christ accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection. Light shines brightest in the midst of darkness. May we followers of Jesus allow Christ’s light of hope to shine all the more brightly through us in these dark days.

Thanks for watching. And know that God loves you. And I love you too.