In 8th grade I watched my grandfather flatline in a hospital bed. One moment he was with us, albeit in a very sickly state, he was still with us. The next he was gone.
Tragedy strikes that quickly.
In light of recent events (hurricanes, earthquakes, shootings) it felt fitting to not just address global tragedies (Check out My Prayer for Las Vegas for more on that topic), but to also address tragedy on a personal level. We all have to deal with them. Tragedy is unavoidable.
Despite the inevitable nature of tragedy, what do you do when in an unexpected instant your world gets turned upside down? You receive a phone call from a loved one. It’s cancer. Someone you care for gets into a car accident, or you lose the child you and your spouse have dreamt of having for years.
While there is no quick fix to magically make you feel better, there are some steps you can take to walk through the grieving process in a healthy manner. Let’s take a look at those.
Step 1: Hurt
Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died.
He pleaded with God in the garden of Gethsemane to take his cup away.
Then he was angry with his friends for not staying awake and praying during his darkest day.
Despite the church’s history of ignoring emotions, Jesus demonstrated that emotional hurt is a natural response to pain. Jesus felt all the same emotions and pains we feel. Rather than ignore those emotions, He chose to lean into the pain, knowing that pain leads us closer to our heavenly father.
When tragedy strikes, cry on your heavenly father’s shoulder. He’s there for you.
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Step 2: Balance solitude and company.
Going back to the Garden of Gethsemane story, we notice in scriptures that Jesus balanced his time between solitude and company. He needed both, and you need both. You need time by yourself to work through the pain. You also need people who will walk beside you through the pain.
When my grandfather died, I chose solitude over company for years. It was a conscious decision to not invite people into the hurt I felt. This decision, while bring me closer to God, pulled me farther and farther away from others. It made the healing process last longer than necessary.
Hurting people need healthy people.
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You know that instinctively, but we all forget quickly. When tragedy strikes choose a balance between solitude and company, but when in doubt choose company.
Step 3: Choose joy.
James, the brother of Jesus, said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2)
My coworker, Daryl, teaches me that daily difficulties are an opportunity to choose joy. He takes what appears like a negative situation and chooses joy in everything. It inspires me. For him choosing joy is such a natural rhythm in his life, he does it without thinking.
Tragedies are an opportunity for us to choose joy.
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Life hurts. Difficulties can often outweigh the positives. Despite the struggles, we as followers of Jesus Christ have an opportunity to work through these tragedies in a healthy manner.
Do you know somebody struggling with a tragedy right now? Feel free to share this with them either through email or social media.
How do you work through tragedies?
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