A sister in my church has recently endured the loss of her only sister and her mother in the past six months. They were all very close. This morning I woke with a heaviness on my heart wondering why one family would be given such a dose of loss in such a short period. Then an old Walter Hawkins’ song came to mind. The lyrics start “Tragedies are common place…” Yep, that’s what I felt that we are just doomed to this life of regular tragedies. If you watch the news or interact with social media, there’s so much bad stuff (really bad stuff) going on that you just want to pull the covers up, hunker down and say “Come Jesus, come!”
However, here’s the thing when I went searching for the song in my iPhone, I couldn’t find a song titled “Tragedy.” The name of the song is “Thank You, Lord.” Who knew? Let’s put that together. Not tragedy but thank you. How does one get to thank you from a tragedy? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think, “You know, God, you make this following you thing way too difficult.” You want me to experience any number of tragedies, setbacks, personal or professional humiliation, loss of wealth, loss of health, etc. and still utter a sincere thank you while I’m going through it? That seems a tad bit out of the realm of human possibility to me…I’m just saying.
At this moment, a beautiful thing began to happen! The Holy Spirit started to flood my mind with reminders like:
For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. Lamentations 3:31-33 (NLT)
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 2 Corinthians 4:8 (NLT)
Sisters, He knows it’s rough, but there is hope. Where is that hope? The hope and the ability to push through is definitely not within our human capacity. God wants to get us to a place where we acknowledge our total dependence on him. Why? Is God some control freak who’s obsessed with collecting a bunch of friends and followers, (you know like we do on Facebook or Linked In) to show how networked he is? To the contrary! God truly desires to be our comforter, our advocate, our rock, our shield. However, to know him at this deep level we have to trust him with everything…yes, every little thing so that we can experience the peace and calm offered in Philippians 4:7 (NASB): And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God knew that going through tragedies would be the hardest thing he ever could require of us, so he gave us an example through his son and our savior Jesus Christ. He came to experience tragedies so he could feel what we feel. But he also came to show us what happens when we trust God enough to steel ourselves by staking our shaky feelings in a solid faith that God will never leave us nor forsake us. Being the God he is, he didn’t leave us with just the example. I mean it’s great that Jesus experienced the hurt that we feel on a daily basis. Because of his first-hand experience, Jesus is the greatest advocate for us. Jesus can whisper to God and say “Hey, Dad, I know what she’s going through. I feel her hurt. I’ve been there.” I remember feeling so distraught about an issue my daughter was going through that I just lay prostrate in the floor…I’m talking about face-down-in-the-rug-groaning-in-prayer kind of thing! Romans 8:26 (NASB) promises us “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;.” The peace that came when I got up and looked up only came because Jesus had whispered to God. The overwhelming sense of peace and grace prompts our hearts to exclaim a sincere thank you even in the midst of tragedy.
Dear Lord, Thank you for being patient with me through the tragedies of this life. I thank You for patience because I often will first want to wallow in my “why me?” moment. I thank You for reminding me that You knew this day would come and that You cared enough to provide a way through it. I thank You for Jesus and the Holy Spirit for coming alongside me to guide me through my hurt so that I can see You through the tears. Because I trust You, I know that I can trust You through the tragedies. In Jesus’ name, Amen.