Tag Archives: death

Searching for Answers Amid Tragedy

answers amid tragedy

By Kevin Howell

Here’s some of my reflections from the Tucson, Ariz., shooting tragedy.

During times of inexplicable tragedy, people naturally have questions running through their minds. Whether it’s something we deem natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti, or the recent floods and mudslides in Brazil, or something caused by man, such as the Arizona shooting, we are all looking for answers. Typically, since there are no reasonable answers in the human mind for matters of this magnitude, people tend to question or blame God. And honestly, I can’t fault them for that, because I question God.

It’s difficult not to when a 9-year-old girl, Christina Taylor Green, is killed for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can’t blame God because I know it’s not in His character to cause such a thing, but as far as how it was allowed to happen, I wrestle with understanding the ideas of sovereignty, free will, evil, a fallen world and providence. Truthfully, it’s just too great for my mind to comprehend, and too complex for theologians to surmise. As President Obama put it in his address at the Tucson memorial: “Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.”

The truth is, there are no simple explanations. It’s just something we can’t wrap our limited minds around. With something tragic happens that’s beyond our power, we look to the higher power for comfort, understanding, and unfortunately to place blame. However, it’s ironic that when things are going quite well, in times of prosperity, and when man does exceptional feats, we have simple and acceptable answers. We rarely look above to give credit, nor for explanations. Rather, we heap praise on human accomplishment. We applaud ourselves for our skill, work ethic, mental fortitude, and knowledge, not even considering that the triumph, achievement, joy, or success had something to do with the same One we question during our lowest moments.

I speak of our nation in general, of course, and not every individual. But I believe we all fall into that category in some way. I know I do. Maybe I do thank God during great accomplishments, but in times of peace and happiness, when life is simply wonderful, do I celebrate Him with gratitude as much as I seek Him for assistance when life stings? Unfortunately not.

Therefore, tragedy serves as a lesson for us. It’s a reminder, not just of our finitude, but also of our need to always live in gratitude.

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Making Each Day Your Masterpiece

make each day your masterpiece

After following coverage of the memorial service for the Arizona shooting victims, I was left impacted by the words and ideas expressed. Here’s just a collection thoughts that mingled in my mind from the memorial.

By Kevin Howell

When tragedy hits, we all have different reactions, different coping mechanisms and different ways of reasoning. When a tragedy happens in public and has a wide impact, such as the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., we call it a national tragedy. On our televisions and the internet, we all live through it. Though death and tragedy are painful, beauty can arise from it… as long as we arise from our mourning, changed.

Death and tragedy remind us of our own mortality. They remind us that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, this week, or even the rest of this day. It doesn’t mean we should live in fear, but we should live more circumspectly, more aware of our frailty. When we do that, we pay less mind to inane matters and tasks, and focus on what matters. Essentially, we care less about things, and more about people. As President Obama said during his speech at the memorial: “We are reminded that in our fleeting time on earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame — but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.”

Unfortunately it isn’t until we lose someone that we realize how worthy they were of our time and love. In that sense, tragedy is a wake-up call to embrace those family members and friends who are still with us. We realize that, ultimately, they belong to God, and we just get to borrow them for their lifetime. With that in mind, we become more grateful for every moment we get with them, and look past petty differences and dislikes that may keep us away from them.

The late John Wooden, a legendary basketball coach who later in his life was more of a beloved teacher/philosopher than a hoops guru, said that his father often told him to “make each day your masterpiece.” I believe we are capable of doing that, but only when we have an incentive. Our mortality is an incentive. It gives us a sense of urgency… or more so the reality that life is urgent. Making each day your masterpiece isn’t about accomplishing as much as you can in one day. It’s simply looking inward and being the best you that you can be today, and remembering, each moment, to do what you are here to do: love, unconditionally.

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