It would be impossible, in just one message, to go into all the reasons for suffering and for why God allows tragedy. Instead I want to focus on five ways that we should respond to tragedy.
I Need to Release My Grief
When you go through a tragedy, which is inevitably going to happen, the first thing you need to do is release your grief. Why? Because tragedy always creates strong emotions.
Did you feel any emotions this week? We don’t always know what to do with our feelings. If you don’t deal with them, but instead stuff them deep, your recovery from a crisis always takes far longer than it should. See some people are stuffers.
For some reason known only to the Lord I am reminded of a dear saint of God who would be spiritually crushed by the lack of depth in today’s Christian world. Of course, I can’t speak for him, but I can speak about him. He was radically saved by the grace and mercy of God. His encounter with Jesus has become known throughout the world. However, his name, his face and his story are almost insignificant. But not to me.
Probably one of the most recognized songs in English Christianity is “Amazing Grace,” published in 1779. Imagine its origin, scratched out with a quill pen on some type of crude parchment by John Newton, a slave trader who experienced the pure mercy and grace of God. Little did he know that his poetic personal prayer to Jesus would be recorded thousands of times and be adored by generations of grateful sinners who knew exactly what he was expressing. I would imagine the rendition of “Amazing Grace” delivered by a band of bagpipes has brought overwhelming inspiration to countless millions.
It is the single word ground into the bloody soil of every battlefield in the world.
It is buried in the rubble of every civilization, state and neighborhood that has been devastated by a natural disaster.
It lies in the ashes of the burned-up dreams of a family that just lost everything.
It can be heard in the quiet, nighttime sobbing of a little girl whose mother just succumbed to cancer.
When it comes to work ethic, I was raised in the old-school by a West Texas dad who felt it was his parental duty to teach the next generation the value of minimum wage, back-breaking, manual labor.
The first job he arranged for me was digging ditches. That’s right, my dad secured my brother and I summer jobs as ditch-diggers, installing underground telephone cables ten hours a day in the 100-degree Mississippi heat for $1.65 an hour.
Since I complained so much about the heat, the next summer he got me an indoor job. So I spent that summer inside an UN-air conditioned warehouse loading 50-pound fertilizer bags onto pallets. During our breaks we would go outside to cool off. The inside of that warehouse was hotter than outside.
Anytime we exalt the men of God above the God of men, the church has been charmed. I thoroughly and wholeheartedly believe in honoring deserving men and women of God. This is right and well pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Paul instructs us in the Book of Romans to give honor where honor is due. Quite honestly, honor is a rare commodity in many Christian circles nowadays. We would do well if we practiced giving honor to those who merit it more. But trouble is on the horizon when we exalt our leaders as if they are Gods and give glory to them that is due the Lord. Men can and should be honored, but they must never be worshipped.