We expect the Christmas season to bring joy and hope…but sometimes, the pain of tragedy overwhelms us. Many families in San Bernadino are aching over the empty chair at their holiday tables. Others are mourning the loss of lives taken in recent car accidents. Still others are mourning the loss of loved ones whose lives ended in what should have been the prime of life.
Sometimes, the pain in our hearts is overwhelming. We have to remind ourselves to breathe, take the next step, eat the next meal, live another day. Just because our pain doesn’t have the same name as the next persons’s pain doesn’t make it any less real or debilitating.
In church, we hear passionate proclamations that God is love. Yet, in our pain, we wonder, “If God is love, why did He allow _____ to happen?” The dissonance between what we hear and what we feel in the tragedy makes us question our faith.
I can’t tell you WHY tragedy strikes some and not others. I can’t explain why some of the nicest people can meet with the worst tragedies. I can’t tell you why some are spared and others are not.
But I can tell you this…
God does not cause our tragedies.
He made a perfect world, a Utopian paradise for the first man and the first woman. He provided for their every need and met them regularly in their garden of paradise. He only had one rule. There was only ONE tree they could not eat from.
They CHOSE to eat from that ONE tree. That choice meant that they had chosen disobedience over a walk with God. The Creator’s heart was broken. His beloved creations had chosen a piece of fruit over Him. From that one choice, all kinds of evil entered God’s perfect world. Each generation has continued to choose other things over their Creator.
God does not cause our tragedies. Thousands of years of bad choices have caused our tragedies.
We live in a world cursed by sinful choices. Like the evils released by Pandora’s Box in the fable, sin has released disease, crime, war, and every other form of tragedy. This was NOT God’s plan. We chose this.
When my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I had to comfort a sobbing daughter. She asked why this was happening. Through my own tears, I answered, “Because crap happens.” You can substituted another 4-letter-word for mine, but the meaning is the same. CRAP HAPPENS. It happens because we live in a Pandora’s Box world.
So, where is God in the pain?
He is right there with us. He weeps with us. In the darkest night of my life, the night after my husband’s brain surgery, God sent me comfort. I felt His presence so strongly that if I had opened my eyes and seen Him standing there, I could not have felt Him more.
God redeemed my pain. He allowed the pain to fertilize the soil of my heart. He planted new seeds in my heart that could not have grown there without the pain. He made it beautiful.
If you are in that moment of pain now…
Realize that God hurts with you. When His friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept. He weeps with you.
Go to Him with your pain. Tell Him how angry you are over the tragedy. Tell Him how your heart aches. He is God. He can handle it. He won’t turn away from you in anger. You wouldn’t turn away your own angry, grieving child…neither would He.
Remember that God is with you, holding you, even when you can’t see Him.
Remind yourself that God is in the business of making beauty from ashes. He will create something good from the tragedy. He did not cause the pain, but He will heal your heart and bring new life to you. Just trust Him.
Carol is a wife, mom, piano teacher, and blogger for Alaska Christian Women's Ministry. Having grown up in church, life made her dissatisfied with empty religious traditions and trite answers. She discovered that Jesus alone is the way to real life and true contentment. Ever stumbling and learning herself, she invites her readers to experience God's love and forgiveness like never before. Read more at CarolDunfee.com.