This was a tragic week. I don’t know how much heartache Orlando can endure. I saw a number of posts by Christians on social media this week that addressed these tragedies – the terror attack and the death of the young child at Disney World. I thought some of these posts communicated a Christian response better than others.
I was encouraged to see that Chick-fil-A received some positive press for being so quick to respond with free meals after the Orlando attack. I have to confess that I was ready to post this on Facebook with a “see – even though they have received strong negative publicity for the owner’s moral stand, they are still serving the very community that lashes out at them” type of post. I had a point to make, and I was going to make it.
As I read the on-line news accounts of Chick-fil-A’s generous act I was struck by the number of negative, angry and even hateful comments directed towards Chick-fil-A and Christians. I was ready to pounce and respond with the appropriate righteous indignation. Bottom line – I am right and they are wrong. Because isn’t that what’s often at the heart of many social media posts? Who’s right and who’s wrong? But that’s not the point of Christian service. That’s not the point of following Jesus’ example and washing another’s feet, and touching the untouchables (Jesus touched lepers with His hands). And that’s not how to best communicate the hope that is found in Jesus Christ.
When a single person shoots over a hundred people, and a young child is taken by an alligator in front of his parents, that’s not the time to present a political or social position. That’s not what a broken heart needs in that moment. What people need is to know that there is a God in Heaven who sent His own Son to suffer humiliation and agony as a display of His love for all of the people He created. And that He longs to be a part of our lives, and for us to one day spend eternity with Him. Several Scriptures where God declares that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked ran through my mind earlier this week. (You can read some of those scriptures here)
As writers, we have a great opportunity to present words that comfort, sooth and present the hope that we have found in Jesus Christ. When times of tragedy strike, those are the times when our gift of writing is called into service.
Did you ever wonder why a cable TV show can air a biography so quickly after a celebrity dies? That’s because many of them already have a show produced and on the shelf waiting for the appropriate time to air it. Sounds sort of morbid, but that’s how they are able to ‘strike while the iron is hot’.
So my suggestion is to have your response to tragedy already written and ready to post. Having prepared remarks in advance will help keep you from those knee-jerk reactions and quick-to-judgement type of posts that generate more heat than light. Don’t accuse, don’t politicize, don’t take a side. Just let the love and hope of Christ flow through you onto the page. When people are searching social media, they often have a short attention span. Many are still numb and may be mindlessly clicking on links regarding the current tragedy. Keep it brief. Include a single Scripture that speaks peace into your own heart. Maybe include a link to a song by a Christian artist that has helped you through a tough time. Pray that the Holy Spirit will somehow lead hurting hearts to what you have written. When people experience such deep heartache we know that only One can touch hearts with healing hands that bear the scars of His own agony.We know the One who touches broken hearts with healing hands that bear the scars of His own agony. Click To Tweet
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their intimidation; do not be shaken.” But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to articulate a defense to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But respond with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who slander you will be put to shame by your good behavior in Christ. I Peter 3:14-16 (ESV)