how to serve others after tragedy


The mail came Tuesday. I’m not sure why it surprised me, but it did.

I’m always shocked when the mail arrives after a tragedy. I want it to stop. Maybe as an act of reverence. Maybe because I want more time to mourn. The mail reminds me life moves fast, too fast.

I know as months pass other horrific stories will become newsworthy, and even if we swear we will not forget, we do.

I lived in Littleton, Colorado when the Columbine tragedy occurred. I remember sitting  less than a quarter of a mile away listening to updates on a radio and screaming sirens. I witnessed the world swoop in to hold Littleton. Eventually, I saw the cameras shut off and turn away.

When we think of serving others after a tragedy, we tend to think of physical ways to help, and that’s good. Often money is a need and Americans reach deep and give, but today, I want to challenge you to pick a name of one of the many impacted by the explosions at the Boston Marathon, and I ask you to pray.

Call him or her by name.

Serve families by offering prayers.

Serve strangers by calling out to God.

When all words sound cliché, serve by praying.

 Image credit.



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Amy L. Sullivan
SERVE Editor Word lover. Book devourer. Music addict. Amy is a Northern girl who found herself living in the South. She drinks sweet tea, turns her nose up at okra, and attempts to tell her daughters "yella" isn't a color.


  1. And now we have folks in Beaumont and West Texas to hold up in prayer too. The name I’m lifting today is Lance… he is the friend of a friend and has suffered burns on 88% of his body, 59% are 3rd degree. He goes in for all-day surgery in just a bit. He is married and has a baby son. Lance is a brother in Christ. So, if someone needs a name, I’m sure he will appreciate the use of his.

    Thank you for this post, miss Amy.


    • Darlene,
      Burns on 88% of his body? I will add Lance’s name to those I am already praying for. Thank you for sharing about him.

    • Praying for brother Lance, Darlene.

  2. Dolly Lee

    Thanks, Amy, and Darlene, I am praying now for Lance, for his healing physically, emotionally, and psychologically…so hard. God comfort Lance, his wife, and their baby son, who doesn’t have words, but he misses his dad. Guide the doctors and nurses, who will be caring for Lance; may they be compassionate and competent.

    • Thank you, Dolly for adding to the prayers for Lance.

  3. It is incredibly overwhelming when these tragedies occur. They tend to make me feel paralyzed. Thanks for reminding us to pray. We can all pray. May God be with those that suffer today.

    • Lori,
      I know. I feel the same way. Paralyzed. I know I want to do something, but everything seems so insignificant.

  4. I agree ~ seems as if life should stand still just for a moment. Prayer is definitely the best thing we can do…Choosing someone specific is a great idea. I will do that as I remember the many including Lance mentioned below…

  5. this praying for strangers….always, always i pray for parents who lose children. even the grown ones. because i’ve heard the primal cries of a mother mourning the son-who-died-just-nine-hours-earlier. and i will never forget. so i pray for them. the moms and dads and grammies and pop-pops who have lost the youngers. i pray for their comfort and for them to know that crazy peace that comes only from christ….

    • “the primal cries of a mother mourning the son-who-died-just-nine-hours-earlier” This line haunts me.

  6. Amen, girl. I believe that we forget the power of prayer (I know I do) and we think the best way to help is to be physically doing something. Perhaps it is more about being something.

    • Jen,
      I’m totally guilty of wanting to physically do.

  7. A marvelous message, from the heart and the head. We all should give of ourselves in daily prayer to others. So much to pray for, so little time.

    • Thanks for reading. There is so much to pray for. I used to pray for certain things on certain days…I’m totally not that organized now.

  8. I find myself feeling shocked, saddened, and maybe a bit angered when horrible tragedy’s happen to innocent people.
    Thank’s for reminding me of the power of prayer. I am asking God to help heal all who are suffering from the explosions at the Boston Marathon.

  9. Thanks for reminding us to pray. Life is extremely short. Will keep those who suffered this tragedy in Boston as well as Texas. Hoping they find strength in God to cope with the healing process.

    • Wendy,
      Thanks for reading. It’s sad how just in a couple days later, Boston seems so far away.


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