Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

On my mind #49: Tragedy is not a platform: My thoughts on responding to national tragedies.

I’m not sure I’m calmed down enough to write this.  I’ve not been calm in several of the discussions I’ve been in, and that’s simply because I think a bunch of people are wrong.

Well, I’m sure that sounds arrogant, but I’ll do my best to explain.

Tragedy is not a platform.

The unspeakable tragedy and its consequences that have unfolded over the past week in Newtown are first and foremost that, a tragedy.  But many, even people I love to read and usually agree with, have turned this tragedy into a platform.

The mass loss of life (especially the lives of children) is NO OCCASION to rant about agendas.  I’m foremost against those who have been having discussions about gun control in the past week.  I’m also really against those who fill the airwaves with discussions about how this can be stopped and the never-ending focus on the shooter.  For crying out loud all of the the dead are not buried yet!  These platforms, in my view, are a complete waste of breath, and I’ve paid little attention.

Tragedy is tragedy – think about reality.

Think about the reality of what happened.  The blood of children (children!) was spilled all over an elementary school.  The lives of heroic teachers and administrators were cut short.  Children are without friends and siblings.  Parents face the stark reality that their children will NEVER grow up, and all they have remaining now are pictures and memories.  Christmas trees in Newtown have gifts under them that will never be opened.

Newtown, Connecticut will always be associated with one evil man.  Real human beings went into the school and carried out the bodies of twenty children who were shot – many of them multiple times according to reports.  Real human beings will endure those experiences over and over in their minds.  Real human beings heard gunshots and protected the children who survived.  Real human beings responded and heard the bullet that took the cowardly gunman’s life.  Tragedy is tragedy – and because of that, the lives of those in Newtown are utterly re-shaped beyond the imagination of anyone who wasn’t there.

President Obama did a good job, but . . . 

I think our president has natural gifts of displaying compassion.  His speech Sunday night to those grieving in an auditorium was full of love for hurting people.  I’ll never be in that specific spot, but I do wish he simply would have called the nation into mourning.  Instead of even hinting at policy change, I think he should have challenged the American people to hurt – together.  We should have been challenged to cancel activities, wear black, gather as communities, pray, and mourn, at least for a week so we could focus together on the burial of the dead.  He should have asked those already yapping about political issues to stop out of respect for the dead.  At the very least I wish he would have put the focus solely on the victims (both dead and living), and how those attempting to move on need our support in grief.

And so we’re divided, and narcissistic.

My biggest concerns are not about gun control, mental health, Adam Lanza, arming educators, video game violence, or other things people are flapping their jaws about in regards to why this happened.  My concern is that we are narcissistic.  My concern is that we will take to social media to prove a point or promote an agenda – and trample both on the grief of the living and the honor of the dead while climbing the steps to our platform.  And that concern is spiritual.

The only conversation that really matters . . . 

is the gospel conversation.  The gospel — you remember that, right?  The good news? That Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners?  The only hope of man in difficult in dark times?  The only hope of Newtown?  The gospel is ultimately others centered.  That was the ultimate thrust of Jesus’ life.  And so, the narcissism of promoting our agenda in the immediate wake of tragedy is completely me centered.

If you’re a Christian, how much have you prayed for the spiritual healing of Newtown, the churches and leaders performing these funerals, and the eternal destiny of grieving parents?  If you’re a Christian, how much have you searched Scripture for truth that informs, or sought out Christian blogs and articles that help you think about Christ, the gospel, and the presence of evil? If the answer to these questions is: “not as much as I’ve watched the news, listened to gun control debates, and fed my mind with secular solutions to evil”, then I strongly encourage you to divorce your politics from your faith and learn how to put humanity first.

We should . . . 

Continue to grieve.  We should continue to pray diligently for those affected by this massive local and national loss.  We should be careful talking about policy moving forward.  If prompted, we should find a way to send a care package, a letter, a card, or some way to encourage the families in Newtown.  And then we should do it again 3 months and 6 months from now.  We should commit to pray for weeks, months, years. When this event leaves the news, it will barely be beginning to sink into the hearts and minds of those affected.  The road of grief for these families is not measured in terms of length of media coverage.  It will likely be until they go to their own graves.

We should pray as churches, smaller fellowships, families, and individuals.  We should cry.  We should cry privately, and we should cry out to God in the absence of answers.  We should ask that God will help us show an ability to trust in His sovereignty and knowledge, and that from shore to shore His grace and truth would fill this land in effective displays of compassion, unity, and concern for the loss of life experienced one week ago.


  1. I have cried many tears and said many prayers over this tragedy. I’ve also prayed that God help me understand that, in this life at least, I will never understand how or why this happened, or why God let this happen. And, I’ve thought about, as you stated Kevin, how the reality of things will just start sinking in after the news media has left, and everyone else “gets on with their lives”. Those poor families will never be the same. I have my views as well on what things this country needs to change. But right now our compassion and prayers need to go out to those families. Nice post Kevin.


  1. […] Following that, I got pretty disgusted that a lot of people (Christians included) used the tragedy as a sounding board for their agenda or idea.  You can read that post here. […]

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