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How Should We Respond To Tragedy

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last couple of weeks you are now fully aware of the devastation and destruction that has been caused by hurricane Harvey, specifically around the area of Houston.  The images and stories that have come out of this event are heartbreaking to say the least.  No one, with even an ounce of humanity, can witness what we have seen and not be moved.  But how should we respond with something like this happens?

To be honest, I am often overwhelmed by the amount of need in our world.  I actually believe that social media and the speed at which information travels has numbed us quite a bit to the reality of tragedy and destruction.

Fifteen, or even ten years ago, our news was crammed into a 30 minute television spot at 10 PM.  They would still report on tragedies, but it was a limited number of events that could be shared.  Now with the age social media, we hear, see and read about every tragedy that happens around the world as soon as it happens.  We can sometimes watch it unfold live from someone’s cellular device.

Because of this, we are not only numbed to the reality because we see it so much, but I also think we are overwhelmed with the need.  Which tragedy do I get involved in?  Which need do I help with?  Which problem do I become a part of the solution?

At some point, I think we have to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting on when, what, where and how we get involved in responding to tragedies.  If you respond to all of them you will lose your mind and most likely your livelihood.  So here are four ways you can respond to a tragedy.  Some tragedies you will only respond in one way, others you might get involved in every way, but these are your four options.

1.  Pray — I know that sounds cliche, but so many times this is our only option.  Prayer can sometimes become our excuse, “I’ll be praying for you!” but we never do.  But I believe prayer can often times be overlooked.  Church, there is still great power in prayer!  When we read about, see or hear of these awful events, we can immediately lift up our prayers to God.  It might be an under the breath, “Lord help them!” prayer.  It might be an extended, hit your knees and beg God kind of prayer, but prayer is always an option.

My uncle is an executive pastor at The Harbor church in Houston, TX and after I recently reached out to him, he said this about prayer:  “Your prayers are sustaining us with energy, encouragement, and hope as we do all we can assist those affected.”

Don’t think that your prayers don’t matter.  I stand as someone who has felt the mighty prayers of God’s people in times of need.

2.  Provide — Sometimes we are moved beyond a prayer to financially get involved through money or resources.  When something like Hurricane Harvey happens, the amount of need is overwhelming.  However, when there is so much need there can also be a lot of fraud.

I know many people who would want to give financially or through resources, but they don’t know who or where to give to.  You do need to be very thorough in where you send your resources and only give money or donations to organizations who have been vetted and can be trusted.

I have loved seeing what many celebrities, like TJ Watt have done in their effort to raise money for Harvey relief.  Last I saw, he had raised over $17,000,000.  That is incredible!

Currently, Element Church as a church has not given to a specific organization, but here are some I would recommend.

The American Red Cross —

Samaritan’s Purse — (Faith Based)

Convoy of Hope — (Faith Based)

I would also recommend finding a local church in Houston who you can give through.  Again, I asked my uncle how we could help.  This was his response as a local Houstonian and pastor:  “Beyond prayers, please consider and pray about making a contribution to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund through the church of your choice.  In this way, the most useful help can be provided as the local churches know what is needed the most in their area.  I know for our church, as I am certain for all, 100% of the monies received will be used to assist people affected by the storm.  Our website is

I cannot vouch for every church in the Houston area, but I can vouch for The Harbor.  They are an amazing ministry, meeting the needs of their community around the clock, not just when disaster strikes.  Giving through them would be a valuable investment to the relief effort.

3.  Participate — As you can tell, we are getting deeper as we go.  It’s one thing to spend some time in prayer for the needs of our world.  It’s one thing to dig a little into your pocket book, sacrifice a meal out or two, and give financially to the needs.  It’s another thing all together to leave your home, arrive on the scene of a tragedy, and invest your time, effort and safety to serve those in need.

To be honest, I am not fully aware of the volunteer need at this point for Houston.  The last I had heard they were asking people not to come in to town looking to serve.  First, it wasn’t safe yet, and second, they didn’t know what to do with all the people who would come.

I think your safest bet would again be going through the local churches on the ground, asking where they may need assistance in serving those in need.  I would imagine you can also go through the before mentioned organizations (Red Cross, Samaritans Purse, Convoy of Hope) to see if there are ways you can get connected to give your time and effort to the need.

Participating may not be for everyone, but there is probably someone looking to get involved.  If this is where you think you need to be, please make sure you do the hard work of connecting with an organization that can put you where you are needed most.  Just showing up often times creates more work than help for those on the ground.

4.  Policy — This last one is the most involved.  This is reserved for those who truly have a calling to be involved, full time, in the welfare of our country.  This might be leading a non-profit that serves in the wake of tragedy.  It might be working as a politician or in legislation, literally creating or moving policies that aid in times of need.  Whatever the case, those involved in the politics and policy have given their life to it.

This is not something that should be walked into by the emotion of an image or news story.  We need Christian people who are called into the political and policy arena, but like any calling, it needs to be just that.  It can’t be a good idea, it needs to be a God idea.

So which way can you be involved?  Not everyone will be involved in every way but all of us can be involved in some way!  Anyone can pray.  Most of us can provide.  A few of us can participate.  Some of us will be called to give our lives to these causes around the world.  My challenge to you is, whenever you are faced with a tragedy, at least choose one!