How to Process Tragedy

How to Process Tragedy

Tragedies are all around us - from school shootings to natural disasters, car crashes to cancer - it's inevitable that tragedy will strike our schools and our personal lives. As believers, how do we make sense of these tragedies? Let's talk about it.

Thank you to Poverty Encounter for sponsoring this podcast episode!

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Making sense of tragedy

As believers, how do we make sense of these tragedies - and, as necessary, how do we walk through them with our students?

Well, these are loaded questions, and I certainly don't have all the answers, but I do have some thoughts that have been helping me as we've walked through a recent tragedy. I pray they'll be helpful to you, too.

1. It's right to grieve and be sad.

Having joy in Christ doesn't mean we don't grieve. The Psalms are full of Lament recorded for us as examples. Jesus wept at Lazarus' grave. And we are called as Christ's body to "weep with those who weep." Feeling sad when a tragedy occurs is not wrong.

2. There's nothing natural about death and tragedy. 

These were not supposed to be part of our original reality. Sin brought them into our world, and it makes sense that we feel with our whole being that this isn't right - because it's not right. God did not design this world with death and tragedy in it. He has yet to fulfill his promise to make it all right - but He will.

3. Suffering is part of this fallen world and should be expected.

Part of our struggle to make sense of tragedy comes from the "American Dream" - the belief that life should be easy and wonderful and exactly what we want it to be. The Bible paints a very different picture.

The Bible makes it clear we will face trials, tribulations, and tragedies. Although we're grieved, we shouldn't be shocked. It's grievous and awful, but suffering is, tragically, part of living in this sin-cursed world, and understanding this can be quite helpful.

4. Trying to understand why isn't always helpful.

We might struggle to understand why God allowed this to happen. The reality is that we cannot understand, and trying to see the “why” is often not helpful. Sometimes we can find a reason or good from the situation, but sometimes none of it makes sense. We must choose to rest in the promise that God will redeem even this, that He will use it for good, even when we don't understand how that's remotely possible.

Romans 8:28-29 (NIV) says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters."

These verses show us that God uses tragedy in our lives to make us more like Christ. We can rest in the truth that God is going to use this.

5. We need an eternal perspective.

When we look at today, we cannot imagine how this could possibly be used for good. But when we consider how eternity is before us, we can trust that God is working at His purposes that will last for eternity, calling people to Himself and transforming us into the image of Christ. We must raise our eyes from the here and now and turn them toward eternity. Often what God is doing is for eternity, even if it’s really difficult now.

2 Cor 4:17-18 (ESV) says, "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

I want to share one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard on tragedy and suffering. You can watch it here.

6. Jesus suffered.

Jesus is "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." He lost a friend (Lazarus), a father (Joseph), was betrayed (Judas), misunderstood, was literally killed, and so much more. We have a Saviour and a friend who suffered greatly - who understands what we're going through. God didn’t spare Jesus suffering even before the cross. He isn’t asking us to walk through anything that His Son didn’t walk through. Jesus is our friend who understands.

The lyrics to this hymn from 1908 remind us that Jesus has been there. 

7. God Must be our hope

One day, God will make all things right. He will end sin's curse, wipe away every tear, and set up His Kingdom where He'll rule with perfect justice. Until that day, our hope is in Him, in the fact that He is with us, will never leave us, that He understands, that He will get us through each day, will bind our broken hearts, and will one day make us whole. Remembering that our hope must be in Him is incredibly helpful. 

If you’re dealing with something difficult right now, seek to walk through it with God. Read the Psalms to see you’re not alone. Remember God is with us.

more about poverty encounter

So many children around the world don’t have the same opportunities due to poverty and lack of resources. What if you could give your students a glimpse into their lives, and provide them a deeper understanding of global poverty?

Poverty Encounter is an education exhibit [created by the ministry of Children’s Hunger Fund], and during COVID they launched virtual tours as a way to provide students all across the country with access to these heart-warming stories. You can book a 60 minute virtual field trip for your class today here

Thank you to Poverty Encounter for sponsoring this episode! 

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Today we are sharing some ideas to help you process tragedy in your personal life or school. The Bible makes it clear that we will face trials, tribulations, and tragedies. As believers, how do we make sense of these things? Find the article at

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Helping your students with tragedy is extremely difficult if there's chaos in the classroom. Get help restoring order in our FREE training: How to Reduce Disruptions without Yelling, Begging, or Bribing.

Get the free training here.

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  • It is always difficult to talk about such topics with a traumatized person. Probably the help of a psychologist may be required in 80% of cases, but I believe that your post can also provide support.

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