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26.05.2017

When Tragedy Strikes | Connecting with Culture

Another terror attack. Another tragic story of lives senselessly ripped apart. Little girls out with their mums on a school-night treat.

Teenagers, bubbling with the joy of a night they had anticipated for weeks. Dads waiting outside to bring their kids home.

The impact of the bombing spreads far wider than those killed or injured. Each of those lives exists within a family, a friendship network, a community. The ripple effects will spread wide and will last for years.

On the same day I learned that a friend overseas had lost her baby. My instinctive response to both events is to want to be there, to drop everything and run towards those who are in pain and…what? What can we do? What can we possibly say? There are no answers. Nothing is going to undo the tragedy and bring back that which has been lost.

Watching the news and recalling similar events, I am struck by the fact that this desire to come together seems to be a universal one. Thousands gathered at the vigil held less than 24 hours after the attack in Manchester, and many more visited the scene to lay flowers, light candles and pay tribute. Embracing and expressing grief alongside others seems both to heighten it and to trigger the start of the healing process. For those of us more distant from the pain it gives us a time and place to appropriately engage with it, then to put it down and carry on. For those in the eye of the storm it expresses, ‘You are not alone. You are right to feel this. You are seen. You are loved.’

And when we’re too far away to sit and weep with those who mourn, there is prayer. That may sound a bit clichéd, but it’s true. Prayer is a way of standing together spiritually, united in love and in Christ. As we pray we experience the comforting presence of God ourselves – he indwells us, so even in the solitude of a quiet space, prayer reminds us we are not alone. And as we pray we can ask God to make that same comforting presence felt to those who are grieving. We can ask him to send them flesh-and-blood community, but we can also trust that he meets them more deeply – and with more love and staying-power – than we ever could.

Jennie Pollock

Jennie is a writer and editor. She blogs at jenniepollock.com and tweets as @missjenniep

Comments

  1. Thanks for writing this, Jennie. Not an easy topic to write on, especially when the wounds are still so recent.

    By Nigel Paterson - 26th May 2017
  2. Praying for situations will often seem a lame thing to do for many, but those of us who know Christ’s love and comfort, want to pass it to those who suffer.
    So pray with all you have and send a loving embrace.

    By Val White - 26th May 2017
  3. Thankyou jennie.More christian bloggers like you are required to bring a different perspective from Christ to the world .Lorna.

    By lorna - 26th May 2017
  4. This is such a difficult happening – the way we respond – or not. but even as we are shocked and grieve for those devastated families, bombs have been dropped on Syria, this very day, and among the dead are 5 children
    How can we be with them, lay flowers for them, take a hot meal?
    Even ‘standing together in solidarity’ isn’t possible – somehow as a human race we have got things so wrong.

    By A Lucas - 26th May 2017
  5. Compliments what is being published by Archbishop Welby in the That Kingdon Come initiative- thanks

    By Peter Swales - 26th May 2017
  6. Thank you.

    By Cynthia Tews - 26th May 2017
  7. When will Christian churches be truthful re- international justice & peace situations. Jeremy Corbyn is right about the causes of terrorism – namely, Western foreign policies from the days of Empire to modern neo-colonialist globalism. The ‘West’ is a capitalist plot to continue economic domination of post-colonial countries to exploit them in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. Why are we interfering in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, Syria and other countries in the Middle East and Africa? And why do we pretend that terrorist atrocities are not connected with this rather than attributing them to ‘deranged individuals’?

    By Edward Egan - 26th May 2017
  8. Jennie, thanK you for this reminder, we all, in some way live far away from a situation that brings pain and hurt. It was wonderful to be reminded that prayer is “a way of standing together spiritually united in love and Christ.”

    By Rhena Clouston - 27th May 2017
  9. We know our God mourns too for these unnecessary deaths
    Prayer is healing and strengthening and I find, the only place to go, when dark times hit

    By A Dennis - 27th May 2017
  10. Thank You Jennie, very sensitively put. How do we convey the power of prayer to those who don’t yet know Christ? Perhaps just to show love and empathy whenever and wherever we can.

    By Ann Page - 27th May 2017

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