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How to Respond to Tragedy in a Spirit of Hope

How to Respond to Tragedy in a Spirit of Hope

All that I offer, I give to Jesus. What does this entail?

The cry of a widow over her murdered husband of one year? The agony of a mother by the bedside of her dying child?

Opening the newspaper or checking my Facebook newsfeed reminds me daily: surely the world is one of suffering. Each way I turn I meet with a story of suffering, and I struggle not to become overwhelmed by fear and discouragement.

Our faith tells us that we are to live in this world, loving those around us with an intense and pure love, and yet look forward to the next world, even keeping one “foot on the other side”.

What does it mean that Christ tells us to live as this is not our true homeland? And how can we live this way, for it begs the question: doesn’t it seem to require a detachment from those we love?

A Life of Hope

The Christian life is one of hope. “Be prepared to give an account for the hope that is in you”, writes St. Paul. For those of us with melancholic tendencies or fearful personalities, this paradox requires deep faith.

It causes me to wonder whether or not I should be reading every story of suffering that I come across. Is this story helping or hindering my faith? Is it causing me to become distracted by worries and fears? If so, then why am I reading it?

These are questions which I have recently asked myself. Is it because there is something inside each one of us which yearns to share in another’s sorrow, or are we only captivated by strange and tragic stories? Perhaps it is the example of Mary at the cross which beckons us, and calls us to open our hearts to be broken over and over again, and to experience the burden of sin and suffering which is present in all human misery.

Reflecting, I inwardly wonder, if I was meant to hear such and such story today, how am I called to participate in the human suffering behind the story? Do I sit down and pray for faces I see in the pictures? Do I offer up my little sacrifices, even if just for the day, in honor of my sorrowful brothers and sisters?

I also consider, does the knowledge of deep pain cause me to live each day appreciating life a little more? Yes, perhaps for a moment, or even a day, and then I fall back to my selfish thoughts and actions. Yet I think God must have known what He was doing when he created us this way. We see clearly for an instant, and then human nature and concupiscence urge us back to comfortable living, and away from our uneasiness.

Isn’t it more natural to live freely, and happily, and doesn’t God want us to do so, without a constant fear of death and separation on our minds?

Offer Our All

We are reminded each day of how God wants us to offer our “all.” All for me may include fears, doubts, and worries.

Another day it could be the offering of my feelings of joy, freedom, and hope.

Our Lord gave us our passions for a purpose; it is up to us to use them with the intention that He created them for. A time to laugh, a time to cry. But life should not be all tears.

Lent and Holy Week are given to us each year as the opportune time to share in suffering, and the passion of Christ may well be veiled behind the sorrow which we experience in witnessing the suffering all around us. It tests my faith to hear of terrible, tragic stories, and those people often feel closer to my heart than the thought of Jesus on the cross.

What I can faintly perceive here is the truth contained such an experience: that every amount of tragedy and heartache truly is Jesus on the cross, His suffering being carried out through human time in the members of his body. Oh yes, we are afraid of it, just as afraid as His apostles were. How will we bear it?

Perhaps Christ wants me to bear the cross of an instant–a grumpy and tired child, a spat with my spouse, a disappointment, a physical ailment—or could it be a tragedy that will change the course of my life? I can’t predict the will of God, and it is only through abandonment and trust that I find peace.

The next time I find myself discouraged with suffering, I am going to attempt to “do something” with that fear and sorrow; I am going to offer it back to God. As it is too heavy for me to carry alone, I am going to share it with Jesus. And I pray that He will teach me His lesson of love over and over, in order that each trial and heartache and doubt draws me closer to His heart and the heart of His sorrowful Mother.

May we be faithful to the cross s which He shares with us.

Header Image CC Zuhair Ahmad

About Emily Molitor

A graduate of Christendom College, Emily lives in Indiana with her husband and two daughters. After teaching elementary school, she is now a stay-at-home mom. She enjoys reading, writing, music, crafting and gardening. Meet Emily
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