IT WAS BAD ENOUGH that we’ve had to endure three monster hurricanes in the past few weeks. All of them Category Four. And at some points at landfall, reaching the top of the power scale, Category Five.
- Harvey in Texas
- Irma in Florida
- Maria in Puerto Rico
It seemed like Sunday’s Bible study topic was right on target: “When bad things happen.”
My Bible study group has been in a series about how Christians sometimes get it wrong.
Sunday’s session focused, in particular, on mistakes we make in tough situations.
Someone dies, for example, and we tell their loved ones, “Everything happens for a reason.” Or, “It’s God’s plan.” Or, “God will do something good out of this.”
Well, it may have happened for a bad reason.
God might not want blamed for it.
And no one suffering through a tragedy wants to watch an optimist paint it as part of a beautiful picture.
Then I woke up the next morning
Monday morning, still lying in bed, I reached for my phone and called up the Associated Press app.
Over 50 people shot dead at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. Hundreds injured.
What could we Christians do to get it wrong in this tragic situation?
I don’t even want to think about it.
Maybe we shouldn’t, in the moment of the hardness.
Maybe we should, instead, focus all our energy on what we can do right.
Christians and hurricanes
What can we do to help the hurricane victims, especially in Puerto Rico, where the response has been slow and puny compared to the quick and muscular response in Texas and Florida?
Given the criticism that the reaction was fast to the white folks and slow to the people of color, Christians could find ways to help the shades get together under the Son. When we white folks surround ourselves with almost nothing but white folks, it’s too easy to think of Us and Them. With Us first.
Christians can also send mission teams to help clear out the mess, bring provisions, and begin rebuilding. I have no doubt plans like these are are already well underway.
Christians and bullets
What to do about a mass shooting?
Give blood. That’s a no-brainer.
Offer a listening ear and a mouth zipped of judgment. We don’t tell the victims what they should have done.
Clean the house of a surviving victim, wash their clothes, take them food.
Some Christians will get proactive in an effort to make it harder for shooters to create this much carnage. They’ll call senators and congressional representatives and ask them why on earth citizens need automatic weapons designed specifically to kill lots of people quickly. Other Christians will argue for the right to own guns like that.
God knows which Christians are getting it wrong.
I’ll tell you this
From my own experience on the receiving end of kindness when Christians got it right, I can assure you that whatever we Christians do to help those in need, it will create a heartwarming memory that will last a lifetime.
- I remember Debbie and Glynda bringing me a meal when my wife and I and our two young kids were all sick with the flu, and when my wife was in the hospital.
- I remember the parents of my children’s friends in school cleaning our house and washing our clothes when Dad died.
- I remember the neighbors I had never met, Renee and Scott, bringing a meal when they heard that our son, who attended high school with their daughter, was very sick in the hospital.
These people, many years later, still warm my soul and give me hope that the world can get better, one act of kindness at a time.
And these kind souls remind me to stay alert for opportunities to follow their example.