Recovery From Life’s Disasters
By Jeff Padgett, Ph.D.
It’s sad to say; life has its share of tragedy, and chances are, you will go through a tragedy. Because the Bible teaches that this is not a perfect world. Because there is sin in the world, people do wrong things, and suffering is a result. (Ecclesiastes 8:14)
Now my purpose is not to explain suffering, as that would take me to a series of writings about what God says about the many, many reasons and causes. I will instead write to you on how to handle it. I want to give you five principles on how to respond to tragedy.
1. RELEASE my grief.
Now let’s look at the first one. When you go through a tragedy, the first thing you need to do is release your grief. Why? Because cataclysm always creates strong emotions. Did you feel any emotions this week? Fear, maybe anger, worry, possibly some depression, perhaps a little resentment, grief over those who lost things. And these feelings are scary. We don’t know what to do with our emotions. If you don’t deal with them, your recovery from a crisis always takes far longer than it should if you bury it deep down.
Some people are stuffers. When they have emotions they don’t know how to handle, they deny them, ignore them, or push them down. Many people use God as an excuse for this. They think God wants everybody to go around all the time with a happy face. Folks, life isn’t always comfortable. God doesn’t expect you to be smiling all the time.
Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” It’s ok to grieve. You have to face your feelings. You don’t repress them, push them down, you don’t rehearse them—torturing yourself by repeating it over in your mind. You release it. You tell what you feel to God.
Blessed are those who mourn. If you morn, you are blessed. Grief is a part of life. And so, the first thing you must do is release your grief. If you don’t, feelings pile up, and they will eventually explode in some form or another.
2. RECEIVE from others
Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” It is a big mistake to isolate yourself from others when you’re going through a crisis. Now usually, that’s what we want to do. We want to separate ourselves. We feel one understands our problem. The reality is you need other people in a tragedy. You need their perspective, support, encouragement, and their presence.
This is why I’m so adamant that you need to be a part of a church family. I’m not just talking about being just an attendee; I’m talking about being a member of a family. When a crisis comes, if you don’t have those relationships in place, who’s going to hold you up? God tells us we need to receive from each other. When we go through tragedy, we need to encourage each other.
3. REFUSE to be Bitter
Some people have no happiness at all. They live and die with bitter hearts. Now you’re going to have to decide when you go through those tragedies, those disasters, “Am I going to allow this to make me a bitter person, or a better person?” You can have a choice. You can either choose happiness in your life, or you can choose bitterness.
One of the things I’ve learned from being in the ministry is that there’s no correlation in life between your experiences and your happiness. None whatsoever! Because I’ve seen people who had absolutely the worst experiences in life, yet they maintain this happy, cheerful, positive attitude because happiness is a choice. You’re about as happy as you choose to be.
How do you keep from being bitter when the inevitable tragedies of life are going to come? You do two things:
A. Accept what cannot be changed.
Quit trying to fight it. Accept what cannot be changed. Faith is not pretending everything is excellent in your life; Faith is facing the facts and not getting discouraged. Faith is facing the realities of life and not being discouraged by them. That’s what genuine faith is. It’s not pretending everything’s great. Everything’s not always great. There are bad things in the world. And bad things do happen to good people, but faith is facing the facts without getting discouraged. You see, there’s very little in life that you can control. I’ve discovered that the essential things in life you cannot control.
B. You focus on what’s left. Not what’s lost.
Revelation 3:2a, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain…” What’s God’s will for me in a crisis? It’s that I am thankful, no matter what. For the problem? Of course not; God doesn’t expect you to be grateful for a tragedy. But it would be best if you were thankful for what’s left, not what’s lost. And you choose to focus on God’s goodness because gratitude and depression cannot exist in the same body.
You want to get over depression, start making a list of all the good things in your life. And the fact is, there are people in this world who would love to have your problems. You focus on what’s left, not on what’s lost.
4. REMEMBER what’s essential.
Disasters have a way of clarifying values. They have a way of pointing out what matters and what doesn’t matter. They define your values. Luke 12:15, “And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’”
What is He saying here? Don’t confuse your net worth with your self-worth. Don’t confuse your possessions with your purpose in life. Don’t confuse what you’re living on with what you’re living for. (And yes, I ended this sentence with a preposition. I hope Mrs. Price, my high school English teacher, will forgive me.)
1 Timothy 6:7, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” You’re never going to see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it. Here is the point, if you want absolute security, you must build your life on something that no person or event can take away from you.
5. RELY on Christ
Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.”
Psalm 112:6-7, “6 Surely he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. 7 He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Psalm 91:1-2, “1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”
Thank you to everyone who joined us in person and virtually on Facebook for Ben’s graduation! We are so proud of the life-changing progress Ben has made during his time with us, and we celebrate the joy and pride felt that day as he finished our Christian-based program.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in person and virtually on Facebook for Blake’s graduation! These photos showcase the joy and pride felt that day as he finished our Christian-based program. We see the potential in each boy who comes through our doors, and we are proud of the life-changing progress Blake made during his time with us.
Bike Ride 2021
THANK YOU to everyone who made donations to support Andrew, Anthony, Branden, Drake, and Evan, and all who followed along with us on social media during the Paul Anderson Bike Ride! Because of YOU, our ministry can continue to build more strong young men of integrity and resolve with a foundation of traditional Christian values.
Would you take a moment to pray for us today? We kindly ask that you regularly lift us up to the Lord. Pray specifically for the hearts of the young men we serve, for the staff to walk with Christ, and for the PAYH ministry to steadfastly remain at the center of God’s Will. From all of us at PAYH, thank you!
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