Today I, like the rest of the world was shocked to hear about the horrific tragedy that occurred in Boston. One can only imagine the fear and confusion that the people who endured this tragedy must have felt or gone through. There are no words that I could write to express what the range of emotions that I felt when I heard the news. Shock, anger, fear, they all washed through me today. I do not know a single person that ran the marathon today, but tragedies such as these always hit me very hard.
As I took some time to pray for the victims and the first responders who stepped in immediately to help strangers affected by this most heinous act of violence, I started to think about how difficult it is to explain tragedies like these to students. How do you show them that an all loving, all powerful God would allow evil people to hurt the innocent, many of which were waiting for the race participants?
I would like to suggest for your thinking, somethings we can do for our students.
1) Don't try to gloss over the tragedy with christian babble.
There is already much confusion in the students hearts and there is no need to add to it. Rather keep things as simple and as short as possible. Also, do not minimize the gravity of the occurrence, these are sad times we are living in, a lot of tragedy and pain seems to rise up almost daily. They need to hear words of comfort and peace. They need to see your faith in God.
2) Let them ask questions.
undoubtedly, they will be questions. Many of them will be difficult to answer, and many darn near impossible, but the best thing we can do is to let the questions be spoken and to help students process what is going on inside their heads.
3) Draw their focus to God.
Rather than focus on the tragedy, help them see that even amongst the chaos of this world, God is always in control. Even though many people may not want him and some may even hate God, He always sends angels in the form of the first responders, paramedics, police officers, firemen, volunteers and random individuals who step up to help with any need. It is an opportunity to draw their attention to the fact that all life on earth is fleeting and uncertain. In reality, none of us know when or even how we will end our time on earth, but as believers it is important to remember that our faith in Jesus Christ guarantees us eternal life. Death is not to be feared, but rather, we must be consciously preparing our hearts for the time when the Lord calls us home. In all tragedies, God is in control.
4) Find a way to let the students help the victims
Perhaps having some cards you can mail (its not hard to find the address) to the place where the tragedy occurred, this time being the Boston Marathon. Let them write short messages for the first responders, the doctors, the volunteers, police officers etc. If you also have Young Adults, then perhaps having a blood drive or taking them to donate blood as one event can do wonders to help them feel like they are helping people in some way.
Remember the words Jesus said:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
May the Peace of God be with you all
pray for Boston.