In The Midst of Tragedy

As I write this blog, I can't help but feel emotionally drained, and yet still feel the wave of emotions rising back up in my soul. There was a mass shooting at a high school in our county, a high school that was only 10 minutes away from the house that I grew up in. 17 people died. I first heard about it from my sister through our family group chat—"shooting at douglas."

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but when I first read the text I didn't think or feel much about it. Don't get me wrong—I hated that it happened. It's just that we hear about this kind of thing all the time. And I'm ashamed to admit that I'm one of the people that has become desensitized to it. However, recently I've been asking the Holy Spirit to not just fill me, but to let my mind and body be His. He is, after all, the only person of the Godhead Who calls us His dwelling place.

As the day went on, I started to feel a deep burden for the victims, families and friends of the victims, and the countless people who were undoubtedly going to be encountering anxiety and fear in the days and weeks ahead. I started to think about what it would have been like to be there. And I really started to think about the fact that some of these people don't have a relationship with Jesus, and therefore have no hope.  

How sad. How tragic. How utterly devastating. And what in the world can we do about it? 

Well, there are lots of things we can do. But the truth is that anything we do apart from the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit will not bear nearly as much fruit as it will when we are being led by Him. We need to be completely surrendered to Him and willing to do whatever it is that He asks us—whether it feels like too much or too little.

So what do we do when tragedy strikes? What do we do when it hits our homes and families? What do we do when it didn't affect us at all, yet we feel an urgency to do something about it? The very first thing we do is call out to God (Acts 9:31 tell us that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter). He is our ever-present help in time of need and the One who directs our steps.

The second thing we do? Grieve. 

When we grieve, we are actually experiencing a part of the Father's heart. Yesterday as I was watching videos taken from inside one of the classrooms, I felt the Lord remind me that He was there. He was in the hallways, the classrooms, the closets. And He was weeping the entire time.

I KNOW that the Father is weeping over this tragedy and that it breaks His heart to see so many people hurt, scared, hopeless, and lost in darkness. Multiple times throughout scripture we see that Jesus was moved with compassion and grieved with those who were grieving—in John chapter 11, Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus. And since we know that the Father desires for us to be conformed to the image of Christ, we know that grieving a tragedy reflects the heart of the Father.

So don't feel bad for grieving. Don't feel weak. Don't feel embarrassed. Grieve. And then ask the Spirit what He wants you to do in response.

Praise God that we have the hope of eternal life with our Heavenly Father and Savior. Even in the midst of the most awful tragedy and deepest mourning, we can still hold onto this promise—that one day we'll stand face-to-face with Jesus and know His unending love for us in a way that's truly incomprehensible. There will be no more sorrow and no more tears. 

Until then, I'm beyond thankful for the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I pray that you know and understand His supernatural peace and comfort as you grieve alongside with Him.

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14


Matt Rodriguez is our Midtown Campus Worship Leader, Resources overseer, and teacher/Discipleship overseer at Ocean's Edge School of Worship. He is an incredible worship leader, mentor, disciple maker and friend. Matt loves community, coffee, and a good challenge.