Reflecting on the Devastation of Japan and a Church Member That Passed Away and the Virtues of Tragedy

My heart was broken twice this weekend. First with the loss of a 48 year old gentlemen in our church who was diagnosed with cancer just 5 weeks ago and second, with the tragic earthquake/tsunami in Japan.

After seeing a handful of videos and pictures of the devastation, I had to stop clicking. I need to discern the balance between being informed and obsessed and I find at times, that it’s easy to objectify and trivialize these events with the constant consumption of these images and stories. To combat that, I try to pray and meditate.

For the sake of context and to limit the sensationalism, I don’t know anyone that died in Japan and aside from a church missionary family that is safe in Japan, I don’t know anyone there. Regarding our church member, I wasn’t very close to Angelo and am much closer to his family. One of his daughters is active in our youth group, his other daughter graduated a couple years ago, I high-five his ten year old son in the church hallways, and have enjoyed many conversations with his wonderful wife who has served our church in many ways. Perhaps my deepest conversation with him was when we repainted the farmhouse on a couple church workdays a few years ago. He was a quiet, private man and I know more about his faith through his family and our senior pastor who visited him in the hospital many times a week. Still, my heart is quite broken by both these tragic events.

I am very content with never getting used to tragedy. In fact, in some sense, I hope always grieve with the grieving and never get desensitized to the pain of this world.
Admittedly, my thoughts were quite distracted throughout our worship service. I often find myself debating with God during these times of grief. At times it’s accusatory, other times it leads me through a process of recognizing that I have allowed a poor understanding of sin, death, sacrifice, life, redemption and the character of God to limit my thinking. I still finish these times with, “Lord, I believe but help my unbelief.”

In my post prayerful moments, here are some of the “virtues” I find in tragedy:
1. Tragedy keeps us our hearts broken.
2. Tragedy reminds us to intercede for the hurting.
3. Tragedy keeps things less trivial, my heart less vein, and our community focused on the Sovereignty of God.
4. Tragedy reminds me that things of this world are fleeting and temporary.
5. Tragedy helps me be a better person in this world as a child of God, husband, father, friend, pastor, citizen of the world.

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