Editorial: Compassion in tragedy

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Editorial: Compassion in tragedy

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States of America came together. Democrats and Republicans in Congress spontaneously joined together to sing “God Bless America” in the middle of a press conference.

Americans from every walk of life met at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for candlelight vigils to mourn the tragedy. Major sports events were cancelled, and musicians organized benefit concerts to aid grieving families.

For a brief moment, unity seemed possible.

Twenty years later, the story is completely different. As the War on Terror, a two-decade conflict that began on 9/11, draws to a close, everyone is divided.

Democrats and Republicans agree that the situation in Afghanistan is a crisis, but they disagree on who should bear the blame or on what steps to take to solve it. The news is not flooded with stories of Americans singing patriotic songs or holding candlelight vigils. Unity seems further from us than ever.

The images of a thin perimeter of American soldiers guarding the Kabul airport as the Taliban took over the capital of Afghanistan have not brought the nation together as 9/11 did.

Instead, the reactions are a symptom of division. Americans yell over each other, saying their preferred candidate would have done better, or what is happening is better than the alternative. The events happening in Kabul are teaching the U.S. to pass the blame, not to grieve.

But Christians don’t have to follow the majority. Times of tragedy are amazing opportunities to remember that God is in control and that He cares. Romans 8:28 reminds us that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

When God promises that all things work together for good, He means it. That includes tragedies that fallible human beings can’t even begin to comprehend, including the situation in Afghanistan right now.

In addition to resting in God’s sovereignty, Christians have other responsibilities in crises. As disciples of Christ, we need to be wise about our speech. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Prov. 18:21).

Instead of reacting angrily and lashing out at fellow human beings, Christians should be understanding. God’s people should be gracious when judging others, tolerant of opposing viewpoints that do not contradict Scripture and respectful of all human beings because they are made in His image. In fact, a Christian’s first priority should always be to meet the spiritual needs of those who do not know Christ.

The people suffering in Afghanistan, from the U.S. nationals who rushed to escape the country to the native Afghans who have nowhere to run, are not political props. God’s people should have compassion for them, not use them to tear down the other side of the political spectrum.

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17).

Believers may not have the power to help the entire country of Afghanistan, but they know the One Who does. Christians need to fall to their knees and pray when they see a sinful world marred by evil. Come before the throne of grace. Pray for Afghanistan.