Recently, I did a radio interview with David Griffin, one of the lead pastors of Community Life Church in Forney and Sunnyvale, Tx. David has some great insights into the questions we often ask when we suffer loss. If you are interested in the two part radio interview, check out the “For Christ and Culture” website and search “Responses to Tragedy” to hear the full programs. Here are some frequently asked questions:
- Is God really omnipotent? Tragedy tempts us to question God’s power. We are not alone in asking this question. The Israelites asked it over and over again in their 40+ year journey from Egypt to the promised land. They faced many tragedies (some of their own making), but God made good on His promise and blessed those who continued to trust Him. Israel’s journey to the promised land has been used as a metaphor for our life’s journey. We can take courage, knowing that the God who parted the Red Sea at the beginning of Israel’s journey and dried up the Jordan River at the end is the same God who leads us through the sea of loss and tragedy. Cling to Him and He will carry you through.
- Is God really omniscient? Tragedy tempts us to question God’s knowledge. We wonder if He was as blind-sided as we were when the pain struck. Psalm 121, however, reminds us that He is the God that “neither slumbers nor sleeps.” He knows all, is prepared for all, and has the answers for all situations that confront us. Confusing is one of the worst parts of suffering unexpected tragedy. Thankfully, we have an omniscient God who can see past the shadows of the valley to the radiant sunshine of the mountains beyond.
- Is God really benevolent? Most often, tragedy tempts us to question God’s goodness. This isn’t a new temptation. The serpent tempted Adam and Eve with this question thousands of years ago. Fortunately, we have an answer for that too. Tragedy comes as a result of sin. Sin taints every aspect of our humanity: body, soul, and spirit. God’s goodness, however, makes him infinitely just and infinitely loving. In our finiteness, we have trouble understanding how God can bring about perfect justice and perfect love at the same time. The Bible tells us that His means can be summed up in one word: REDEMPTION. Redemption is the transformative process that turns tragedy into triumph. That which was meant for evil is used for something good. Brokenness now becomes perfection. When you face tragedy, don’t limit God by demanding that he simply take away your pain. Allow Him the time He desires to provide perfect redemption for your circumstances. In the interim, allow yourself time to grieve, but not as someone who has no hope. You have no idea what miracles He may have in store just over the next hurdle.
QUESTION: What tips have you found helpful for ministering to people who have suffered a tragic loss?