Finding Biblical Comfort After Mass Shootings and Other Tragedies

A Seattle Pacific University student sits with a Bible in his lap following a June 2014 shooting on the campus in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Another outbreak of mass shootings in recent days, including an attack on a bar in Southern California that ended with 13 dead last week, leaves communities across the country lamenting life in a broken and sinful world.

How do we navigate it?

For the Christian believer, an Old Testament book offers a needed liturgy for suffering: The Psalms give fertile ground for deep sighs and groans before the Maker of heaven and earth.

Whether suffering is public, like the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead, or private, like the tragedies that unfold in homes across the country every day, the book of Psalms gives the Christian believer the room to grieve and the ground for hope.

Eleven years ago, I spent a searing evening in a chapel at Virginia Tech University, where a gunman had cut down 32 people the morning before. A campus pastor faced a room of college students who were largely unaccustomed with death and wholly unacquainted with mass shootings.

What does one say? He read Psalm 88:

“My soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave. … You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep.”

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SOURCE: WORLD Magazine, Jamie Dean