I originally wrote this post when our church had experienced multiple tragedies. Within the course of one week we had experienced five deaths. Among those were a Christian camp director who died during accident while trimming trees, the death of a 3-month old , and a suicide. In times like these, I am at a loss for words. I am however reminded of some lessons from death and tragedy.
- Sometimes this life is hard and unfair. I get the whole “life is good” movement. I even bought the T-shirt. Truth: life is not always good. It was good at one time. Then Adam and Eve ushered in sin (Genesis 3) and we have been paying for it ever since.
- I miss heaven. As I grow old I find myself a little jealous for people who get to experience what I long for. The presence of our great creator and the absence of mourning, crying, and pain. How awesome it will one day be.
- Stop taking people for granted. I am a task master. I love to get things done. Problem is the things I accomplish are way less important than the people surrounding me. In the end it is people who count. Spend time with them. Have a long spiritual conversation over coffee. Text the long lost friend. Reach out. The tasks will always be there, the people may not.
- God is still God. In the struggles, it is natural to question the motives of God. Did you allow this? Why did this happen? Why did you not stop this? I do not know the answers to these questions. But I know that God is still God, even if I cannot comprehend why things happen.
- God is still loving. This is a tough pill to swallow. In the middle of a hellish situation, I find myself asking God how his loving nature can allow such things. Yet I know this is a broken wold. I know it rains on the haters and lovers of God (Mt 5:45). Is it unfair? Perhaps, but fairness is not an indication of a lack of love.
- Tragedy has the ability to destroy my heart. For the past (difficult) season in my life, I have been leaning on Phillipians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The promise in this passage is that God will guard our hearts and mind with peace. I wish the passage said that God would heal, change, re-arrange, and raise the dead. Instead he promises peace. In my battle for peace and lower anxiety, I offer multiple prayers and requests, all laced with thanksgiving. Does it work? To be honest it is a battle but there are stretches of peace in the middle of some incredibly difficult times. I pray the same for you.
This world is hard. We are not in heaven. Jesus said . . . “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.” – Jn 16:33 Friends, we will have trouble. We will not often have answers. We have something better. One greater than the world. One who gives peace. One in us. And in this life we continually remind ourselves that our creator is with us. Even if the situations of life lie to us. Especially when the situations of life lie to us. In your tragedy, may you offer prayers and petition laced with thanksgiving. As a result, may you experience peace in the dark valleys of life. One day may we all be welcomed into a heaven void of every evil thing and filled with the glory of the one who created us, loved us, and walked with us through our tragedies. Maybe then we will understand the “why” behind our pain. And perhaps it will add to the volume of our praise. Until then, great peace to you.