Trauma can happen in any number of forms. Being caught up in a wildfire or flooding, being in, near, or closely linked to a shooting, being the victim or witness of rape, domestic violence, or a car accident all can cause trauma symptoms. This doesn’t even include the every day pains of emotional abuse that can impact us to our core or betrayal and hatred that appear in our daily lives and online.

Why does God allow this to happen?

We know He can prevent this because we have seen the titles God has for Himself:

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.
– Psalm 147:5

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
– Matthew 19:26

We even see Jesus talking with the disciples directly before He is to be crucified on the cross and die for our sins. In this passage, we see the beginnings of hope.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
– John 16:33

The Answer Actually Leads To Faith

Asking why a tragedy happened is looking to understand God’s plan. The difficult part to accept here is that we will not be able to fully understand God’s plan. It is not until we are in heaven that we will fully know why. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

But we do have a basic understanding of tragedy. In Lee Strobel’s book “The Case For Faith”, Lee looks at the biggest objections to why someone should have faith in a God that you cannot see or touch.

However, we have to look at this in the whole scheme of God’s plan. You see, there are worse things than death or murder.” “Like what?” I asked. “Though it’s hard to comprehend,” he said, “the worst thing is to say to God that you don’t need him. Why? Because a dead person can be restored to life by God; a bereaved person can find peace from God; a person who has been violated can find God’s sustenance and strength and even see God conquer through the dark mystery of evil. In other words, there is recourse through these atrocities and tragedies. But to a person who says he or she doesn’t need God, what is the recourse? There is none.

“The Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel

I encourage you to read the whole book to grasp the whole of the arguments of how we can have faith.

How Can We Respond In Faith In Tragedy?

So in turning the question titled in this article from why does God allow this to happen to instead how can we respond in faith in tragedy, we are doing a couple of powerful things that need to be immediately mentioned. These techniques are clinical counseling coping skills from Dialectic Behavioral Therapy we teach our clients, but here we can infuse our faith into them.

  • We have radical acceptance. In counseling, this means we accept our situation. Not that we are okay with it, not that we hope it happens again, and not that minimize the impact. But we accept it. In faith, we as Christians can turn it over to God, because as we previously stated, God is in control.
  • We can reframe. Reframing is looking at the tragedy in a new perspective. We can’t change what’s happened, but we can see the good in something that is so easy to see the negative. With our faith, we can begin to see how this can be responded to as ambassadors for God. We can show love, comfort, support, and grace.

As we are hurting, unsure, and lost, we can turn to the one constant that will always be there: God. We can deepen our relationship with Him, grow to trust more in Him, and follow His will. As we are beacons for Christ, we can show our faith in God, even when we are still working through it ourselves and continue to love one another.

And if we are not in tragedy ourselves but see those around us who are, let us have compassion. Let us meet their needs in the moment, not responding with theological proofs of pain, but with hot chocolate, blankets, bread, and a listening ear full of love and compassion. Let our hearts break with theirs and our love and support surround them in protection.

I leave you with these verses on compassion, that they may motivate your heart to love others.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
– Ephesians 4:32

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
– Lamentations 3:22-23

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is the Co-Occurring Program Coordinator and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at a community mental health center. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Colorado and Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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