How Not To Respond To Tragedy

fistIn the wake of the recent school shooting in Connecticut, pundits have expressed a wide variety of views on everything from gun control, mental illness, bullying, the Devil, as well as God.  One of the most outrageous statements that I believe I have heard came from a preacher and nationally known Christian author.  Here’s what he said, “This is a time to go deep and pray…If you have a problem with God, shake a fist or two at him.”1

As I understand the Scriptures, such advice to one who is suffering is asking the sufferer to get angry at the only one who can offer hope and peace.  I certainly understand that there are times in our lives when we don’t understand the activity of God.  There are times when we don’t understand why God actively or passively caused or allowed certain events to transpire.  But to encourage people to “shake a fist or two” at God?

The Old Testament Prophet, Habakkuk received some very troubling news concerning an impending invasion by the Babylonians, a “fierce and impetuous” nation.  Habakkuk couldn’t quite understand why God would punish Judah by the Babylonians, who were worse sinners than Judah.  So he registered his “complaint” with God.  But did he shake a fist at him?  You be the judge.  Here’s how Habakkuk, approached God with his question:

“Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction. You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:12-13).

Did Habakkuk understand the course of events that were about to rock his world?  No.  Did he raise a fist at God?  Absolutely not.  Rather he couched his question and his misunderstandings in the most respectful terms as possible.

In times of trouble, turn to God in prayer.  Ask your questions.  Express your fears.  Convey your frustrations.  But don’t charge God foolishly (Job 1:22).  Rather than shaking a fist at God when you’re scared and hurting, open that fist, and reach out to him as a little child would reach out this his father for help.

1Max Lucado, CNN Belief Blog. “Massacre of children leaves many asking, ‘Where’s God?’

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