We have all been shaken by the tragic events in Manchester, a few days ago. The nearer death gets to us – the more real it becomes. We seem still vaguely immune to the distant tragedies of other places in the world, where similar events occur weekly – remember this?
The combination of the young age of the victims, the immediacy, the senseless damage done by one individual and the long-term effect on families and communities – all bring a huge emotional turmoil to all of us.
What can we do with all of this? How do we react? How do we process this mentally? How do we address our feelings?
Here are some of my humble suggestions:
- we stay silent: social media is such a frustrating place at times like this. People went their hatred and scapegoat indiscriminately or parade simplistic naive solutions. Better to stop and follow Job’s action: ‘I put my hand over my mouth.’ (40:4)
- we lament: we take the time to feel the sadness, share in the pain of loss and internally express the righteous anger against injustice like David did (Psalm 55:1-30): God, listen to my prayer and do not hide from my plea for help. 2 Pay attention to me and answer me. I am restless and in turmoil with my complaint, 3 because of the enemy’s words,[a] because of the pressure[b] of the wicked. For they bring down disaster on me and harass me in anger.
- we love – at times like this people use the ‘all religions are the same – they are the cause of trouble in the world’. This is the perfect time to ‘say and show’ that Christ-followers are about love (not a naive and condoning one but gracious love that doesn’t perpetuate hatred): Matthew 5:43-44 (CSB): 43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies[b] and pray for those who[c] persecute you.
- we pray – we don’t broadcast boastfully about it, but we take our tearful grief to God and ask for His extraordinary comfort for those affected and for our empowering to be His messengers of hope, healing and forgiveness.
- we reach – each action of senseless evil in our community is a silent commentary on our ineffective influence for transformation. The message of Christ can change broken lives, seduced by lies and deceit. We need to speak and show – as living adverts – about the transformation God wants to bring to in our hearts, homes and ‘hoods’. This is a picture of it: Galatians 5:22: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses, and self-control.
Lord of all compassion
We pray for all of those caught up in the midst of tragedy or disaster.
For those who have lost life and those working to save life
For those who are worried for people they love
For those who will see their loved ones no longer
Lord Have Mercy.
For those in need of the peace that passes all understanding
For all who turn to you in the midst of turmoil
For those who cry out to you in fear and in love
Lord Have Mercy.
For those in confusion and those in despair
For those whose tears are yet to dry
For those in need of your unending love
Lord Have Mercy
(Church of England Prayer)