" 2 Seconds to Disaster" scream headlines of all newspapers in India today. An airplane packed with returning workers from Dubai crashed at the Mangalore airport in India on last Friday early morning. Out of 166 on board the plane, only 8 survived by jumping out of the plane as it burst into flames soon after falling into a valley after overshooting the runway. Imagine the sorrow of the families waiting to meet their loved ones coming back after several years. Think of the loss of life and property. It all happened all of a sudden when the fliers realized they had arrived in their motherland, when the plane just touched down. In seconds, they were all charred to death and no more! How do we respond to such tragedies in life?
Life often does not turn out as one had hoped. So many stories are being recolleced on TV news about the crew some of whom just jined the Ariline to realize their dreams, etc. Youthful idealism has this glowing vision of the future, colored with radiant optimism. And then real life comes along!
Tragedy may come in life, gut-wrenching heartaches. Your marriage may fall apart. Or your teenage daughter comes home pregnant and the man has no desire to marry her! After years of faithful service, your employer calls you into his office to inform you that your time has come to leave. Or the doctor tells you quietly that your faithful wife has terminal cancer. And you go through the agony of seeing your beloved wife waste away and finally die. No, life is not always good to us.
But how do we respond? We may become angry and bitter, angry at God for allowing this to happen. With Job's wife we may cry out, "Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9). We may enter into a deep valley of depression, drowning in the depths of self-pity. If we experience pain, suffering, anguish, anger, tears or sorrow because of sickness, an accident or financial trials, we should not blame God and think, "Why are You punishing me?" Sometimes He allows these things so we examine our lives.
Sometimes God allows such things in our lives so that we will be blessed by the experience we go through, and be brought closer in our relationship with Him.
Here's a real story of how those whom God loved went through sickness and death and finally came out joyful and victorious even over death and grave! In John ch. 11, Lazarus, Mary and Martha were loved by the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, Lazarus fell sick and when they informed the Lord Jesus, He delayed to respond. Here are five truths we need to help us through our suffering and sorrow.
1. God's Glory. When the Lord Jesus heard about Lazarus' sickness, He said: "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory..." (Jn.11:4). This was the real purpose of the sickness. So, death was not the final outcome of the sickness. It was an opportunity for Him to display His power and strengthen people's belief in Him.
2. Tears. When tragedy strikes, there will be tears, much tears. We should not try to avoid grief, because it is not a sign of immaturity, weakness or lack of faith. Grief is very real. It hurts and should be expressed, not suppressed. Also, we should support those who grieve by sharing their feelings (Rom. 12:15). That's what Jesus did.
3. Anger. Another response to suffering or tragedy is anger. Many people express anger toward God by saying like, "Why did You let this tragedy happen?" "And Why me only?" It is understandable. Lord Jesus was angry with death, with the grave and the consequences of sin that brought all this sorrow. Yes, we need to be angry with sin itself and all that it brings. Nothing good is served by being angry with God or ourselves or even others. It can lead to bitterness which is not healthy at all.
4. Truth. If you believe that God's ways and workings toward us are motivated by love, no matter what the circumstance, then you can face anything in life. We cannot control what life brings, but we can control our reaction to what life brings. If you can't react to the suffering and tragedy that comes into your life God's way, it will drag you down and away from God. But if you give it to Him, saying, "Lord, show me what You want me to learn through this. Show me how can I be a better person, how can I be more like You." Then your life will be far better.
5. Grace. We have a God who is so committed to ending suffering and death, that He was willing to come into this world and suffer and die Himself. God knows what suffering is like. If you think that God does not care about your pain and suffering, then think again. Don't blame Him for what happens in your life. He was willing to suffer and die for you because He cares about you and loves you.
Why does God allow tragedies in our lives? Because He wants to resurrect us, to give us new life, where we'll be better persons, and God will be glorified through us, and we will become more like Him.
It is God's grace that has given us the strength to face the future with confidence, no matter what suffering, pain or sorrow may come our way. God's grace is over all of our life to help us and assure us that we have a hope. No matter what happens to us on this earth, there is the hope of eternal life with Him, a hope that assures us of a future with Him forever. So we can rise up out of tragedy, give God the glory and become more like Him. We will be better witnesses because of what we have been through. Amen.
Letter # 20 (23. 5. 2010)