Hope in the Midst of Tragedy
February 18, 2013 Leave a comment
Tragedy is never something that we look forward to, especially when it is unexpected. Whether it is a personal tragedy or one that affects a whole community, often our first instinct is to shrink back, ask questions, and lose hope.
This weekend, a young lady passed away at my alma mater. It is one of several tragic events that have happened in the Siloam community over the past six years that I’ve lived here. In a small community like JBU or Siloam Springs, everyone is affected to some degree. People always deal with suffering caused by these events in different ways.
What should be the Christian’s response in times like these? Let me offer a few thoughts on hope in the midst of tragedy from Romans 8:
- Temporary sufferings don’t even compare to future glory (v. 18)- Putting tragedies in perspective helps us persevere. Don’t lose sight of the big picture of salvation. Just like gold must go through fire to be refined, so we must face sufferings to become more like Christ. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mourn or grieve, but that we should do so through the promise of future glory for those that belong to Christ.
- The world is broken, but will be set free (v. 19-22)- Because of sin, this world is not an easy place to live sometimes: work is hard, childbirth hurts (Gen 3:17-19), and “all is vanity” (Eccl 1:2, etc). Even the created order longs for its ultimate redemption and restoration.
- Christians long for the completion of God’s salvation (v. 23-25)- Salvation is an ongoing process. It has a past tense (the moment when we repented of sin and put faith in Christ, Titus 3:4-7), a present tense (in which we are being made more like Christ daily, 1 Cor 15:1-2), and a future tense (in which we will be saved from the drudgery of sin and given our resurrection bodies and inheritance, Rom 8:23-25). As elect exiles (1 Peter 1:1), we long to go to our heavenly home, but while we are on earth, we are to live with the hope of that unseen promise. We experience the troubles of living in a place that isn’t our home and share our hope with others in order that by God’s grace they might be saved.
- The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness (v. 26-27)- Sometimes a tragedy leaves us speechless: we know we need to pray, but we don’t know how to do so in line with God’s will. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit that indwells us is there at all times, but especially in times like this, to intercede on our behalf. He prays God’s will for us on our behalf.
- Everything, even tragedy, is meant for God’s glory (v.28-30)- God’s purpose isn’t thwarted by suffering and tragedy. God takes things that discourage us and use them to conform us to Christ, deepen our fellowship with him, bear fruit for his Kingdom, and point toward the final victory of the gospel. He can do this because of his eternal sovereignty over all things and his workings in the lives of his people from the beginning of time.
- Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (v. 31-39)- One of the most dangerous things that Satan can do is to get us to question the goodness of God. Whenever something bad happens, one of the first questions that usually pop up is “Where was God in this situation?” The Christian’s answer: “The same place he was yesterday and will be tomorrow.” (Heb 13:8) Take comfort in this: the opposition of unbelievers and Satan will never succeed against true believers. What an amazing promise!
I hope this is an encouragement to you as you deal with any past, current, or future tragedies in your life. The only hope for any tragedy is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. For those that know him, trust in the promises of Scripture like those in Romans 8. For those who haven’t repented of sin and trusted in Christ, do so today, then find a local church that will disciple you.
JBU students: if you need someone to listen to you, talk with you, or pray with you, let me know. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but we can dive into the Word together and find them.
Learn It. Love It. Live It.
[image credit: Darren Tunnicliff on Flickr]