“There shouldn’t be that type of hate in the world,” says survivor Shaun Royster, as he wells up with tears on CBS news. The details of this horrific tragedy have been all over our screens since it happened in the early morning of June 12th. Investigations have been swift to uncover details, politicians have used the incident to bolster their political platform, and Americans across the country have stood in solidarity with the victims. What can be done now to comfort those who will forever live with the memory of that night?
Christians are in a great position to represent Jesus in such tragedies, or at least we should be. You and I stand in the position of bringing comfort into tragic spaces. In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes about his own suffering. He was lashed, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, adrift at sea, in constant danger from the elements, starving and dehydrated. Through it all God comforted him. It is out of this experience Paul learned to share relief with those around him. Paul doesn’t rely on his own ability to relieve the suffering others. Instead, he relies on the power of God. This is how it should be with us. Human comfort is often brief and mishandled by our own self-interest. God’s work in us is long lasting whether he delivers us from suffering or walks with us through it.
I see a world that that fears the threat of radical extremism. As days turn into weeks Christians should prepare to care for those affected by this tragedy. We should open our hearts to receive them. We should share, with those who are searching, the comfort and hope we have experienced through Jesus. We should represent the image of whom we are made, the God of all comfort. We are blessed with a God who makes triumph out of trauma. The hate we see in this world is overcome by God himself through his mission of reconciliation. You and I are the ambassadors of this mission.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)