The Pathway to Healing: 4 Practical Responses to Global Tragedy

The Pathway to Healing: 4 Practical Responses to Global Tragedy

With just two questions on Facebook, her genuine compassion and desperation were equally apparent. Just days after the Orlando shooting, she wanted to know…

“How can I as an individual affect change on a macro level? How can I be a vehicle of change to help prevent these horrific atrocities from happening again?”

Of course, my friend is not alone in her quest for answers. Haven’t we all found ourselves asking these questions? Whether it’s watching the nightly news or scrolling through social media, we are bombarded by global despair – manmade or otherwise – on a daily basis.

Violence. Shootings. Injustice. Famine. Warfare. Refugees. Hatred. Bigotry. Sickness. Death. Destruction. Unthinkable accidents. Shaming.

With broken hearts and tearstained faces, we stand on the sidelines, wanting to do something – anything – to stop it. To fix it. To heal these hurts and prevent such tragedies from ever happening again. Eventually, we realize we are powerless to do much of anything on our own.

After all, we are not God.

So Where is Jesus, Anyway?

Where is God when it hurts? And what role do we play in accomplishing His purposes?

In the fourth chapter of Luke, we read a beautiful story from the early ministry of Jesus, the Son of God, told entirely in just one verse.

At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.” (Luke 4:40, NIV)

In this extraordinary verse, we learn four important truths:

  1. Jesus dwells among the sick and hurting. Jesus was in the trenches, hanging out with those who needed Him the most.
  2. His compassion is unconditional. Jesus didn’t conduct background checks, or ask why they were sick and hurting in the first place.  His compassion and healing were available to everyone.
  3. He touches us one at a time. We know from other Scriptures that Jesus could have said the word, and everyone in that crowd would have been instantly healed. Instead, He laid hands on each one – modeling the critical value of human touch and the power of one-on-one influence.
  4. It is Jesus who does the healing. Where others could only offer empathy or temporary resources, Jesus offered complete and permanent healing.

Where others only offer empathy or resources, Jesus offers complete healing.

4 Practical Ways to Respond to Tragedy

At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, there was a clear passing of the baton from Jesus to His disciples – including to those of us who bear His name in today’s hurt and broken world.

Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)

Jesus has entrusted us to work on His behalf, and He promised that He would be with us every step of the way. So in the face of tragedy, we can position ourselves to be used by Jesus as we follow His example.  

1. Dwell among the sick and hurting.

You don’t have to go far to find people who are oppressed, sick, ostracized, or shamed. Yes, you can travel across the country or around the world to serve Jesus, but why not start by walking down the block?

You can travel around the world to serve Jesus but why not start down the block?

A few ideas to get you started…

  • Find a local homeless or battered women’s home where you can volunteer.
  • Spend an afternoon mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor.
  • Ask a family with special needs children if you can give them a night away while your family provides free baby-sitting. 
  • Engage in issues that affect your local community, and vote for leaders who will fight for the needs of the “least of these.”
  • Quit arguing and start listening, truly listening, to those who have had different life experiences or see things differently than you do.
  • Enjoy time with someone with a different lifestyle or religion than you, with no other agenda than to be a good friend and the most loving example of Jesus they’ve ever encountered. 

​And when tragedy strikes at a distance, consider partnering with Jesus-like leaders who are already there. Give financially to credible, fiscally responsible organizations that understand the complexities of the local situation and can do the most good with whatever resources you are able provide.

2. Give compassion unconditionally.

There is a time and a place for accountability when it comes to people with whom we have an ongoing relationship and therefore have earned the right to “speak the truth in love.”

However, it’s clear from Jesus’ example that compassion and love are always appropriate, and healing is always available for everyone.  It’s not really our job to uncover all the reasons why a person is hurting, so much as it is to address the fact that they are.       

Compassion and love are always appropriate. Healing is available for everyone.   

I recently saw a helpful graphic from the imperfectpastor.com. It reads:

“Confused about the ‘Christian response’ to social issues? Here’s a handy reference list:

Male – love them.

Female – love them.

Unsure – love them.

Gay – love them.

Straight – love them.

Unsure – love them.

Addict – love them.

Sober – love them.

Believer – love them.

Unbeliever – love them.

Unsure – love them.”

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

3. Touch lives, one at a time.

Grand gestures that impact thousands are wonderful, but when our focus is too wide, we miss out on the opportunity to go deep in our love for our one another. Shift your attention from the masses to getting to know the heart and soul of a small group of individuals. What are their dreams? What are their heartaches? What brings them joy? What causes them pain? The more you get to know someone, the greater the opportunities you will have to show them love.

Shift your attention from the masses to getting to know the souls of individuals.

And don’t forget that your greatest impact may be in helping shape the hearts and minds of those within your own home. If we save the world, but lose our families, we’ll be filled with tremendous regret. Be present and show love… consistently.

4. Leave the healing to Jesus.

At the end of the day, we can show compassion and provide resources – but we are merely conduits to the true Source of unconditional love and healing.

Never underestimate the power of prayer as you ask for God’s wisdom, strength and intervention. Don’t let “I’m praying for you” become a trite, cliché response. Mean it, and more importantly, do it – often and earnestly. Rely on Jesus to bring the complete and permanent healing that only He can provide.

Don’t let “I’m praying for you” become a cliché. Mean it. Do it.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV)

A Greater Impact

We live in a broken world where hope is hard to find. Yesterday’s tragedy is nearly forgotten in the wake of today’s headlines.

No, we are not God, and no we can’t simply fix everything. But we can allow the power and love of Jesus to transform us from within so that we can make a greater impact in the lives of everyone we influence.

Dwell among the sick and hurting, show love unconditionally, touch lives one at a time.

This is your calling. This is how we become like Jesus. This is how He heals the world.

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Heather Day

Heather Day

Heather Day is an accomplished writer and communicator, who served as Lead Like Jesus’ Director of Communications for two years. She also spent nine years as Director of Marketing Communications for Olivet Nazarene University, three years as the Creative Services Coordinator for Bible League International, and two years as Community Outreach Coordinator for St. Anne Community High School. Heather and her husband, Robert, reside in Bourbonnais, IL with their two young children, Emma and Jackson. She is an active member and volunteer leader at Manteno Church of the Nazarene.