The hashtag #RIPChristina is trending today as we all take a step back in shock over the tragic shooting of young musician Christina Grimmie.

If you are in student ministry, you will probably have students asking hard questions. Why would God allow this to happen? Why does such senseless violence occur?

As they pass through the metal detectors each day upon entering their schools, students live with the very real fear that someone might decide to start shooting up the place. What do we tell students to comfort them?

We have to reassure them that God is in control.

Nobody really likes to hear that in times of uncertainty today, though it is nonetheless still true. We must remind students that whatever takes place, ultimately, God is not surprised. He is hurt and grieved by it, just like us, but not surprised.

We must point out the effect of sin on us and our world.

Christina was probably a lovely person and a joy to be around. The young man that shot her didn’t even know her. It is still unclear why he thought Christina Grimmie had to die, but what IS clear is that sin causes people to do sinful things. While all sin is the same to God, it does not all have the same consequences here on this earth. I see this moment as the perfect time to turn to our students and say, “See how badly we need the grace of Jesus? Thank God He came and died for us.”

We must be ready to listen and help them process.

Students may not grasp all of the nuances of the situation, however they FEEL them tremendously. We should be ready to sit by them as they wonder aloud and question God’s sovereignty. Sometimes the best answer is to simply listen and let them work it out. Follow up regularly and offer gentle guidance.

Many students are far removed from this situation and may not even know who Christina Grimmie is. However, in my 17 years of ministry, I have watched students grieve at least five different times when their classmates have taken their own lives, died in car accidents, or drowned. It’s tragic.

Most of us don’t have the qualifications for grief counseling, however we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who will tell us what to say when we need it.

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