How To Help People Recover From Disaster
This past week we as a nation collectively experienced an evil act of cowardly terrorism in the school shooting that happened in Newton, Connecticut. This act was senseless, craven, and unimaginable. No doubt you have joined me and countless other Christian believers in praying for the families and the community that have been so tragically impacted by this terrible deed.
Whenever things like this happen people have questions. Where was God during this? Why did he not stop it? If God is truly a loving God then how could he allow this to happen? During times of tragedy Christians have a responsibility to minister to hurting people in the church and the community. Here are a few thoughts that may help you minister to others during times of disaster.
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say whenever a person is feeling a deep loss. Unfortunately, many people feel awkward and, therefore, they don’t do or say anything. The Bible explicitly tells us that we should, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) What is the law of Christ? It is the commandment to love each other. In other words, one of the ways that you love people is to be there for them. That is what bearing or sharing a burden means. Tell them that you love them and be there for them. Even if you don’t know what else to say that is enough.
Pray with them
Psalm 62:8 says, “Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” God not only answers prayer when we pray in times of trouble he expects us to pray during times of trouble. God is a refuge. A refuge is a safe place, a harbor, or a retreat. You may not understand the reason for the tragedy but when you pray you align yourself under God’s protection and by doing that you begin to feel a sense of peace. It helps your faith grow!
Patiently answer their questions
Do not get frustrated with people when their faith seems weak during a tragedy. Help them look back to God. Also, don’t be THAT man or woman that just throws out the “Christian talk” that can seem so insensitive and uncaring. I do believe that all things work together for good for those who love God, but I think you need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit when you say things like that. Remember, just because a person has questions does not mean that they don’t believe in or love God. Questions about why God allows evil to happen or about how he could let tragedy strike are legitimate questions. There are answers from the Bible and from theology to these questions. Be sensitive to these questions and don’t accuse the person asking them of doubting God.
One thing that may help you to help people with questions is to remember that God created mankind with a free will. God is responsible for the fact of free will we are responsible for the acts of free will. God always has a purpose. Just because we can’t see the purpose does not mean that there is not a purpose. God is infinite and omnipotent.
Psalm 112:7 “He is not afraid of receiving bad news; his faith is strong, and he trusts in the Lord.”
Acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers but God does
Don’t be the pompous know-it-all. That is never helpful in any circumstance. Learn to let people know that you have questions too but that you trust God because of his goodness.
Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.”
Point them to the cross
The cross of Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer to all evil. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was the most outrageous act of evil in the history of humanity. Humans murdered God the Son in his human form. It was the ultimate act of rebellion, violence, sin, and betrayal. Yet at the same time it was the answer to the sin problem for all humanity. It was the greatest act of love the world has ever known. It was the single act that enables whosoever will to be forgiven of their sins, declared righteous, and redeemed back to God. It was the one act in human history that will ultimately lead to the redemption of all of creation back to its original purpose. What Jesus did on the cross defeated evil, death, hell, and the grave. One day there will be no more death, no more evil, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more tears. That was only made possible because God the Son was born from a virgin, lived a fully human, sinless life, died on a cross as our sacrifice, was buried and rose from the grave, is alive today, and is coming again. When I point people to the cross I am reminding them that Jesus suffered evil actions against himself and that he understands what we are going through.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.”