Faith in Tragedy
Yes…another mass shooting and this time children were the victims. I am a father of elementary school age kids and my heart aches for these families. My mind cannot image the reality they are living right now. I’m sure most of you, like me, had to turn off the news at some point because this is so overwhelming.
As I was watching CNN the other night, Don Lemon asked one of the local pastors for remarks. I was embarrassed at the Pastor’s response. His response was that the parents can have “joy” knowing that they will see their children again. Of course, I knew what Don Lemon’s response was going to be…and I was correct. To paraphrase, Don Lemon’s response was “It is hard to have joy in moments like these. I still question God in times like these.” The pastor did say that “joy” was different than “happiness” but gave no further explanation. Regardless, this was probably not the best way to address this tragedy. These families want their children back now! They are not trying to hear they have to wait till they die. A nation full of unbelievers are not trying to hear this either. Right then, I began to pray for this man of God and that God will give him the words to say. I am not writing this to put down this pastor because speaking to the nation about faith in God in the midst of a tragedy is difficult. I’m not even saying that God cannot give you joy in the midst of a tragedy; however, discussing having joy is a bit premature when speaking to the nation on the heels of losing 21 lives in yet another mass school shooting. Everyone doesn’t understand spiritual concepts like “joy” and this was not the time to explain it. This was the time to explain how our faith shines even greater in our tragedy. We, as Christians, are so used to spitting out church jargon that we forget to pay attention to our audience. We have to do a better job in understanding and communicating how our faith becomes alive in tragedy.
When tragedy comes and burns down our homes God will speak to our current pain before he speaks to our future. That’s because the Word that He will speak will produce hope and peace.
Let's remember this…
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus kept things completely honest! In this life you will experience trouble. Is there a deeper meaning in the Greek…yup! - tragedy, pains, hurts, disappointments, difficulties, challenges, etc. You fill in the blank! Having faith in God doesn’t mean we are immune to trouble and will avoid tragedy. Faith in God has the ability to supernaturally carry us through the tragedies of life. There is a strength and a peace that can only come from God. This is because of his unconditional love for us. He hurts when we hurt. There is a healing of the heart that can only come from God. Tragedies can destroy our present and future, but God will not allow it to do so. The enemy will even take advantage of our tragedies to pull us away from God. Jesus’ words in John 16:33 encourage us not to lose faith in God because He will provide all we need to overcome everything life throws at us… even the evil decisions of others.
The root of these types of tragedy is evil and the sin that birthed it. It was never God’s will for us to experience tragedy. God doesn’t want people to let hatred and evil enter their hearts and devastate the lives of innocent people. It was not His will for you to be raped or abused. It was not His will for you to lose a loved one to suicide, car accident, or gun violence. It was never God’s will for us to experience these types of tragedies. Remember, when God created man, he was without sin and was placed in Eden - a place of pleasure and delight. This all changed when sin entered the heart of man. God created man with free will – the will to choose life or death. Unfortunately, man will choose death if the spirit of God is not constantly at work in him. God knew this which is why he sent a savoir, a redeemer, a comforter, and power tread on every evil this world throws at us. Out faith shines the brightest in tragedies. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to our tragedies. Run to Him and not away from him.
I will end this scripture:
“In the desert I was kind to those who escaped death. I gave them peace, and when the time is right, I'll do the same for you. I, the Lord, have spoken… Israel, I will always love you; that's why I've been so patient and kind. You are precious to me, and so I will rebuild your nation. Once again you will dance for joy and play your tambourines."
Allow me to use these words to Israel as a metaphor for all of you who may be experiencing a tragedy. God is reminding Israel of their history. In the Bible a desert or wilderness is often associated with someone going through a time of difficulty or trouble. In this passage of scripture, God reminds Israel that there were people who survived death in the dessert when others did not. He gave them peace and he promised to do the same thing for them again. This says to me that in a time when death is all around us God can give us a supernatural peace to get through. He also reminds them of his endless love and that their time of difficulty or trouble will not cause them to be ruined, but he will restore them. Did you see that? God will take them through a process of restoration that will in the end give them joy. Hear me! God will carry you through your darkest days and restore you. You are not going to feel like dancing today and that’s ok! God knows that is an unrealistic expectation. So just let him carry you through this difficult time and you will find out how much God loves you. You may be living a new normal, but God’s love will help you adapt so it doesn’t destroy you.
Trust Him… Lean hard on Him… He won’t let you down!