When Tragedy Strikes
As many of you probably saw in the news, an awful tragedy took place here in the Houston area in late August. For no apparent reason, other than being dressed in uniform, a Harris County Sheriff's deputy was murdered. Folks in the entire area were saddened and shocked.
The Sunday after the shooting, one of the sisters here in the area and I had a Sunday school lesson. I had prepared a topic to discuss, but I always like to ask if there are any questions first. Our sister brought up the incident, noting that hundreds of messages had been left for the grieving family on Facebook and other social media outlets.
She asked me what scripture could be used to help bring peace to the family, as it was hard to understand why someone would commit such a heinous crime. I began to pray in my heart that God would give me the answers she needed. What scripture could I use to help shed some light on such a dark moment? What could be said, using scripture, to the family? God gave me the answer to both.
The first answer was a passage of scripture in Alma 14. Alma and Amulek had been preaching and prophesying in Ammonihah. Finally, the people had heard enough. They bound the two men and cast out all those who believed their message. Then, they took the wives and children of those believers, and anyone else remaining who believed in the word of God, and martyred them. As they did this, they made Alma and Amulek watch.
Amulek said to Alma that they needed to use the power that God had given them to save the people. Alma told him the Spirit forbade it, as God would take the martyrs unto Him and bring justice upon the murderers (Alma 14:10-11). After we read the scripture, I said that these people, while suffering a tragic death, were receiving an even greater outcome than being physically spared. They were getting to live eternally with Jesus Christ.
It's safe to say that God did not want the Ammonihahites to destroy those innocent people, and He didn't want the man to kill the officer that Friday night. But He allowed those and other tragedies to happen, and we must trust that He has been and always will be in control — even when He does not interfere with man's free will.
I repeated something that I heard from the rostrum in the past: "It's not about this life." This life is lived for the next, and its length is unknown. Therefore, I mustn't worry about what life may throw at me. Instead, I must concentrate on serving Christ to the best of my ability. That way, if I'm involved in a tragedy, I'll be receiving a greater reward than if my physical body is spared.
As for the second question, I was given something we've all heard many times: Philippians 4: 6-7, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
I said that I didn't know if there is a "right" thing to say to the family, but this scripture could provide the hope and comfort that they are looking for when they are ready to move on past their grief.
May the love of God fill the hearts of the family, friends, colleagues, and community members who were affected by this heartbreaking loss, as well as those affected by tragedies across this great Earth. And may the actions of the Saints show the only true answer to the evil that in this world: Jesus Christ.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.