Learning from Tragedy

Kobe Bryant’s tragic death sent shock waves through American communities. People around the world of all races are still trying to piece together the unfortunate helicopter crash that took place on Sunday, January 26th which took the life of Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other souls. Research has shown that over 90% of men watch sports and 60% of Americans deem themselves as sports fans. American regard for sports has caused Bryant’s death to be the most tragic death since Martin Luther King, Jr., especially in black communities. This one hit Americans hard. Why did this happen? How did this happen? What do we do next? Many questions still linger in the wake of such a tragic event.

Tragedy was no foreign event to Jesus. He used tragedy to show that there are more important things in life and to energize souls to live beyond themselves and the world. Luke 13 tells a story of tragedy when Pilate slaughtered a group of Galileans, an awful event that left lots of questions. Why did this happen? Did they do something to deserve such an event? Questions prevailed. Who better to ask than the Word made Flesh? Jesus quickly seized the opportunity to communicate what was really important by referring to another recent tragedy in which eighteen people were killed when a tower in Siloam fell on them. Jesus told us that, in the midst of tragedy, there is still a component that is highly critical. The response of repentance! Repentance was more important than all the questions and wondering. More important to the living is taking the action of repenting.

What a charge! In the wake of a great tragedy we still have responsibility. Where hate exists, we must cultivate love. In the face of dishonesty, integrity and justice have to overcome. Relationships should be restored and anything that causes transgression removed. Perhaps Brandt Jean is wise beyond his years when he stared vengeance in the face from his brother Botham’s tragic death and hugged a murderer. Perhaps Kobe and Shaq realized that there is something bigger to life than a feud that surrounded a game when they decided to reconcile with one another. It should be noted that we all have both an appointment with death and a future state. The future state will render order from a chaotic physical world. It will declare equality where inequality once prevailed. It will balance what once was unbalanced.

Wherever we experience lapses in judgment, whatever relationships need restoration, however we allow bias, prejudice, or racism to intrude into our Christianity - or any failure to be like Jesus– the death of Kobe Bryant is a reminder that the living still have opportunity. It’s a chance for us to choose order, equity, and balance before our appointment comes.

Pray for the Bryant, Altobelli, Chester, Mouser, and Zobayan families. Pray for reconciliation and pray for the opening in your life for repentance.


Barnes, A. (1958). Notes on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Erdman, C. R. (1966). The Gospel of Luke. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press.

Jabbar, K. A. (2019, April 15). The way Americans regard sports heroes versus intellectuals speaks volumes . Retrieved January 28, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/apr/15/the-way-americans-regard-sports-heroes-versus-intellectuals-speaks-volumes

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