Summary: None of us seeks tragedy for ourselves nor should we ever wish tragedy on others. However, from a Christian perspective comes the confidence that God can and will use tragedy for good… He will redeem it for His ultimate purpose. Romans 8:28 says, “And we
“When Tragedy Strikes” Romans 5:1-5
Last week the world watched as the tragic events unfolded surrounding the random violence which occurred at Virginia Tech. A young man apparently for no specific reason, opened fire on fellow students with a handgun.
At least 30 people were killed and 15 others were wounded in the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history. The victims seem to have been completely random. He chose them purely based on who was in front of him.
At time like this it seems natural, perhaps even appropriate, to ask the question: “What is an appropriate Christian response to this kind of tragedy?” Or “How do I respond to this kind of tragedy in the world, can I do anything about it?” Somewhere along the way we’ve been convinced that questions like this are either inappropriate or unanswerable.
What is a distinctively Christian response to tragedy? Many of us carry mistaken beliefs that skew our understanding of God and our ability to know Him and to know the peace, the love, and the hope that he has for us.
The Story of Job
You’ll recall the story of Job found in the Old Testament. Job was a wealthy and prosperous man who lost everything. He lost all of his money, his wife, his children and eventually even his health.
When tragedy struck Job everyone around asked these kinds of questions. They wondered if job was suffering because of some secret sin in his life. They wondered what he had done to earn the disfavor of God.
The Old Testament book that tells his story has 42 chapters containing as many 300 questions. And in the end God doesn’t answer Jobs questions or the questions of those around Job.
Many of us will never have our questions answered either. We won’t always really know why tragedies happened. God does not promise to answer all our questions but he does promise to stick with us and help us when tragedies strike.
God’s word has assured us that He will redeem tragedy and ultimately bring good out of even the worst of circumstances.
God doesn’t always reveal why things happen but He always reveal Himself. And he has revealed His purpose for us. In the midst of tragedy God has called us to live out distinctly Christian lives. We don’t choose tragedy but we can learn to live out a healthy attitude toward tragedy when it comes.
A Groaning World
We live in a groaning world. This planet moans in agony like a sick person in a hospital bed. Sin has wreaked havoc on this planet and all of its inhabitants, humanity included. Pain is all too common and suffering seems to be the norm. I have had people ask me what God is trying to teach them in through their pain.
And others wonder if it is possible to have enough faith to get rid of their pain. They wonder, “How can I get God to rescue me from my troubles?” But maybe part of the reason that we don’t always find answers to such questions is because we are asking the wrong questions. God does use tragedy to teach us things. God is always busy redeeming tragic events. But perhaps a better question than, “Why did this happen” is the question; “How am I called to respond?"
Pain and suffering, tragedy and violence are a part of the fallen, sinful world that we live in and no one – not even Christians – are exempt from the effects that sinfulness and selfishness have wrought on this planet.
C.S. Lewis once wrote that “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Pain and tragedy can be redeemed if we allow it. Tragedy gives us an opportunity to respond in distinctively Christ-like ways. In the Bible Jesus never really gives the why of suffering, He only gives tells what we ought to do in response to it.
If we listen closely, we can hear the voice of God calling us to action in the midst of pain. If we listen carefully, I believe that we hear Him calling us to live out lives which are distinctly Christ-like.
Distinctively Christian Perspective
Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
These words were written by the Apostle Paul. Paul’s life was full of tragedies. Out of his own experience he describes a distinctively Christian approach to tragedy. Paul gives us seven principals to apply in our lives; faith; peace; grace; perseverance; character; hope; love.