Comfort in Times of Tragedy


Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. — 1 Thessalonians 5:11

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Paris. Such a senseless tragedy is shocking but becomes more and more frequent in here terror filled times. When a nation faces tragedy, how can it cope? And how do we work through the grief individually when we suddenly lose a loved one? There is hope for the future. You can find comfort and assurance!

We all desire to have a secure, predictable and peaceful world. But when tragedy strikes, we awaken to new realities. The terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night no doubt shocked all of us. We suddenly realize our world’s—and our own—vulnerability. The Paris attacks killed 129, wounded 352, with 99 people in critical condition.

Most of us have lost loved ones at some time in our lives, whether through tragic accidents, disease or violence. How can we cope with such loss? Those who have lost loved ones need comforting. They need hope and reassurance. As Scripture says: “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). If you know someone who needs reassurance, give comfort. Let that person know you care. Give a hug or place a phone call. Provide help as you are able. When a loved one hurts, we suffer with that loved one. The Apostle Paul wrote that “there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).

We can identify with those who suffer because we, most likely, have also suffered at one time or another in our own lives. We can empathize with their pain and with their loss. You can help others by giving comfort in times of tragedy. Our tears can demonstrate a deep concern for our friends and the victims of tragedy. God is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. When we share our sorrow with our Father in Heaven, He gives comfort. Several of the Psalms express King David’s sorrow as he shared his intimate feelings in prayer. You, too, can pray using the Psalms. David cried out in prayer to his God: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were” (Psalm 39:12). God answers prayer. David begins the very next Psalm exclaiming, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1). God will hear our cry as well. Notice this encouraging promise: “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).

When we are honest with our feelings, and share them with God in Heaven, He promises to comfort us. Some of us struggle with the problem of evil in the world. We do not understand how an all-powerful God, who is love, can allow such evil in the world. God’s long-term plan of salvation takes this into account. There is a real devil who is out to destroy all humanity, and he uses human instruments to perpetrate death and destruction. Satan the Devil is out to thwart God’s plan. But he has failed—and will yet utterly fail.

How do you cope with tragedies? Pray with your whole heart. Scripture shows us that we are saved by His life: “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). We need to seek our Savior with all our heart. In emphasizing the Ten Commandments, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:10-11).

We need to give comfort to others in time of tragedy. We should contribute to their physical, spiritual and emotional needs. We ought to pray for the victims and their families, because we know our prayers can make a difference. “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Are you praying for the victims of terrorist attacks and other tragedies?

Not only do we comfort others and pray for others, but we ourselves can find comfort and assurance from our Father in Heaven who is called “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Paul reminds us that we can take comfort in Scripture, and that we should give this comfort to others. The truth of the Bible can bring comfort in times of tragedy. We all need this inspiring, hope-filled truth.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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