God is not in the tragedy, but in its response

Originally I had planned to write today about the great run I had yesterday and how all pistons seem to be firing correctly, but my heart is too heavy to speak of those things.

Most of you know that I work in the office at an elementary school.  Yesterday afternoon we learned about a horrific wreck in our area that claimed the lives of 3 people.  Living in a small community, you always wonder who was involved, because chances are you know them or someone in their family.  I am so sad to say that we knew those involved in the wreck.  A mother, her husband and one-year old daughter were killed instantly in the crash.  While her other 3 sons were happily in class at our school.

To say that our campus is devastated would be an understatement.  The kids on this campus are OUR kids and when something terrible happens in their lives, we hurt for them.  We worry about their future and how they will cope with the changes that are inevitable.

Our community has suffered through some terrible events in the past few months.  The last one was the North Central Texas College softball bus crash in the Fall.  Several local girls played on the team and 2 girls from our county lost their lives in it.  Times like these cause us to reevaluate our beliefs and focus on the “important” things in life.

Being Presbyterian, I am always amazed at how people can actually explain these events (with conviction and mean it) by saying that “God needed another angel”.  To that, I say that God is God and doesn’t need anything.  Another one that I have difficulty with is that “it was God’s plan”.  Ok…..I know that Presbyterians are known for our belief in “predestination”, but I don’t worship a God whose plan is ripping a loving mother away from her 3 children…..or multiplying a family’s grief by calling home a 20 year old woman whose mother passed just over a year before.  I just don’t believe that, but I do believe that God weeps and grieves with us when these terrible things happen.

I think that “predestination” means that God is omnipotent and knows all, but that does not specifically mean it is in God’s “plan” for these things to happen.  God gave humans free will, and as a consequence, events happen that are terrible and out of our control.  Such as crashes in fast-travelling vehicles, which were invented and made by man (and driven by man, I might add).

So where is God in all of this?  One of my favorite quotes (ok, I don’t even know if it is a real quote, but when I heard it the first time it stuck with me) is “God is not in the tragedy, but in the response to the tragedy.”  I believe this with all my heart.  God works through human actions.  Through hugs and food and money given to honor a person’s life and in so many other ways that can’t even be named.  God is in the response, not in the event.

After 9-11, when our country came together as one in response to that tragedy: God was in the response.

After Allison died and my community honored her and held up her grieving husband and kids: God was in the response.

After the terrible tornadoes in Norman, OK, and many donated their time to help clean up and rebuild: God was in the response.

After the Boston Marathon bombing and runners across the country laced up to run in honor of the victims: God was in the response.

After the fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX and donations of school supplies and money poured in: God was in the response.

After Meg was run over and killed while out on a run and runners across the country ran in her honor and left their shoes in an on-site memorial: God was in the response.

After the NCTC bus crash and people across the country gave tribute to the 4 angels lost in that tragedy: God was in the response. (YouTube tribute here)

And in our most recent tragedy, while the wound is still fresh and our hearts are heavy with sorrow, one thing is certain: God will be in the response.

My point is that if we open our eyes, we can see God’s work, because God has a knack for enabling positive things to happen from negative events.

The family involved in the wreck was like most families in my area: they struggled to make ends meet.  If you feel moved to give, there has been a Go Fund Me account created to help with funeral expenses.

God bless,


15 thoughts on “God is not in the tragedy, but in its response

  1. Sallie Watson

    Amazing reflections, Jennifer. Proud to know you. So very sorry to read about this tragedy, but you’re right: the Bonham community will rally around the family, for a long time to come. And God is in that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too believe in that quote. I have used it often, and like you, I totally believe that God doesn’t have a plan per se, but because humankind has been given free will, there is tragedy. But it’s in the healing that God is present. I am so very sorry to hear about that crash – my heart stung when I read that, and about those poor boys left. Thank you for sharing this – makes any sort of “problems” I may have pale in comparison. Perspective is everything.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post, and you are amazing! Your words can make anyone really stop and think! My thoughts and prayers go out to those boys and I have a feeling that they have an entire community that is going to be there with them and for them to get everyone through the tragedy together!

    Make sure he is your reason!

    Hugs my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nikki

    Very well said and I agree 100%. Keep in mind I am of the Methodist faith. I don’t view God as a puppeteer controlling everything in my life. Many things happen because of the decisions we make and some things can never be explained. God didn’t give me breast cancer. I “may” have gotten it from something in the environment, something in the foods I ate, my DNA, or probably I got it for some reason I will never know. Where has been God been? Right by my side through my journey to recovery. I see it and feel it everyday. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and outpouring of love from others. Thank you for writing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenkirk72

      I totally agree! I don’t see God as puppeteer, either, and that is misconstrued when people hear the word predestination.
      God is right there with you, as all of your friends and family!
      Still praying for you everyday!!


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