“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? Job 2:10
Personal tragedy strikes most families in one way or another sometime in each of our lives. Many experience numbers of tragedies in a lifetime. It is a constant hope and for many a frequent prayer that harm will not come near to those we love and for whom we deeply care. Yet, when we feel least prepared tragedy strikes and loved ones are taken or severely impacted. It is the very thing that causes so many to question whether God is good, or even if he exists. Strangely enough, those who succumb to disbelief in God because of hardship, pain, tragedy or whatever, still find it somehow “reasonable to be angry with a God they have ceased to believe even exists. Or so they claim.
A dear friend of mine who owns a furniture store told me this week of a man who came into his store to buy a lounge chair. When my friend spoke to him about the Jesus he loves, the man stood back and let loose with all the curse words he could get out of his evil mouth in the crudest, fastest and loudest manner he could muster with his pea-sized brain. He demanded his *%@#!* money back and left the store still swearing, especially about his perception of Jesus. Now what are we to make of this? I mean, in rational terms, using something of the brain God or evolution (as some suppose) gave us?
Either this person does not believe in God or at least Jesus as God. Or, he does believe He exists and hates Him with a passion which immediately stirs up his pitiful vocabulary to extraordinary lows. There are not many other logical choices. But if he does not believe he exists why bust a blood vessel over NOTHING? Yet, on the other hand, if He does exist in this man’s mind and he simply hates Him, why get so exercised over One who is external to our world and humanity, apparently possesses super-human powers, has something to do with the air we breathe, and our existence, and on and on, while totally abhorring any examination of who this God is and whether or not He has communicated to us about Himself. If God is, and Jesus certainly made a clear claim to being God in the Bible, and we know tragedies happen, what do the two have to do with each other? If there is no God, and we are alone in the universe with life self-originating and evolving in space and time, and tragedy is but a fact of such evolution, anger is simply a foolish waste of effort! Accept tragedy as a fact of life, and move on, while hoping you avoid the next one. Just remember, the odds are not in your favor.
But man’s natural, universal reaction to tragedy denies the theory of agnostic evolution and says something about humanity’s innate belief that there is a God who might be able to do something about tragedy if only He would. And if He does not protect us or those we love from experiencing tragedy what can we learn about Him and ourselves as we confront it and try to recover from it. If God is, and our private self says He is, then He is the One to whom we must go for answers. He is the One with whom we have to do. No one else can satisfy your “whys or your cries. This is the true life lesson of Job. He wrestled with God, rejected the false view of his counselors, and God eventually showed him Himself. (Job 42:1-6) Job never gave up because he really knew he had nowhere else to go. He was just like the Apostle Peter who exclaimed to Jesus, “Where else can we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life! (John 6:68)
There is a reason tragedy proliferates in the world in which we live. There is a purpose for the tragedies we endure. The answers are seldom readily at hand, as with Job. But the end proved to be far better than the beginning. Job was a different, wiser and better man than he was at the beginning of his tragedies.
This last week our family experienced personal tragedy. Yet today we are more convinced than ever that nothing; “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38) This is not blind or fatalistic faith. It is faith which has seen the love of God in Christ in the midst of our own tragedies, and we have been bound even more intimately to Him.
“Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side; bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; leave to your God to order and provide; in every change he faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
(1st verse of Katharina von Schlegel’s hymn, “Be Still My Soul, 1752)
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