In light of yesterday's events in Virginia, my heart has been burdened for the families and young people who were affected by the tragedy. No doubt the whole nation has been affected by what has happened, but this morning I spent some time thinking specifically about how students are reacting to all of this. As I read various newspaper articles and heard some comments on T.V. it seems there are three main reactions to the tragedy: shocked, scared, and searching. So in light of these reactions, how are we to respond to young people who have heard about the tragedy and wonder why it happened? Shocked
It is right to feel shocked at tragedy. It shows that deep inside all of us there is a moral compass that knows there is such a thing as right and wrong, good and evil. While we know that whoever committed these murders was doing an evil act, we often forget that the evil action comes from an evil, deceitful heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says the human heart is deceitful and sick and no one can understand it. So as Christians we must be ready to say that the real shock is that we are not the ones doing these evil things. Because our hearts, apart from God's saving grace, are wicked and willing to be given over to all kinds of sinful acts. Thankfully God's common grace and saving grace keeps us from committing these sins and in Christ we can be given a new heart. Psalm 22 is a picture of the Suffering Savior who understands the sinful plight of man but was willing to suffer on our behalf, the just for the unjust to bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18). So let us point young people to the fact that Jesus didn't die for nothing! He died and suffered to bring an end to our sin and to one day judge the whole earth in righteousness.
In times like these young people can feel not only shocked but scared. Scared about what might happen to them if it could happen to others. But again Scripture points us to the Savior. Just as Psalm 22 points us to the Suffering Savior, Psalm 23 points us to the Shepherd Savior. Psalm 23:4 says, "Even though I walk through the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me." We have a Savior who was willing to not only go before us but also walk beside us. He is a Shepherd Savior who cares for us and promises to be with us in the midst of pain and suffering.
Many young people are confused today as they ponder the events of yesterday. Christians don't have all the answers to why suffering happens, but we do have One that we can trust in the midst of suffering. In Psalm 22 we see the Suffering Savior, in Psalm 23 we see the Shepherd Savior, and finally in Psalm 24 we see the Sovereign Savior. Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therin." Jesus reigns over all things--even sin, suffering, and Satan. Though it is difficult to understand why He ordains these things to pass, we must remember that our thoughts and are ways are not as high as God's thoughts and God's ways. So as we mourn and weep we can also rest in His sovereignty over all things.
May God give us all wisdom to know how to respond to young people this week and to do so in a spirit of humility and gentleness as we look to our Suffering, Shepherd, and Sovereign Savior.
(Note: Danny Akin first showed me this three-fold Messianic Psalm Structure)
*Read Piper's 21 ways to comfort those who are suffering in light of tragedy.