Posts Tagged ‘Tragedy’



June 27, 2013

“For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten.  How the wise dies just like the fool!  So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 2:16-17

Civil War Veterans

Civil War Veterans (Photo credit: Tipton Genealogy)

Old black and white photographs have a way of capturing my imagination beyond any portrait painting.  Gazing into images of real people with stern and dower expressions cause me to wonder about by-gone ages.  I am easily entertained speculating about what their thoughts and dreams might have been; hypothesizing as to their adventures or romances.  Had they been respected or despised?  Were they a hero or a coward?  Did they have a sense of humor?  What did their laugh sound like?  Were they kind?  Did they love?  Were they loved?

Unfortunately, one cannot deduce much about who a person really was from a photograph.

My parents have many such photographs hanging on their wall.  Their hallway has a gallery documenting my family lineage.  The characters in those images have names, many of which I cannot remember.  They have titles such as great-great-grandfather, great-grandmother, cousins, uncles and aunts who passed decades ago.  They represent a vast network of expanding branches emanating from what is my family tree.

However, these images don’t connect with me beyond a fascination that I contain some of their genetic composition…which is not very comforting considering the general unattractiveness of many of my fore-fathers.

Any connection to these images only begins towards the end of the hallway with the images of my Grandparents.  I knew them.  I played games and laughed with them.  I worked with them.  I listened to the stories that they told.  I knew of their thoughts and dreams.  I was told of their adventures and romances.  I knew that they loved me.

They were so much more to me than an image in a photograph.

Yet, I realize that they are but another image in a long line of images to my children.  My children never knew my grandparents.  Their connection to my grandparents mirrors my own connection to the portrait of my great-great-grandfather.  I am saddened to know that the memories of people who I loved are being lost to unrelenting pressure of time’s passage.

The speed at which we are lost to history is astonishing.  The majority of us will be consumed into the fog bank of the past within a generation or two.  The knowledge of who we really were will simply fade away as age catches up with those who actually knew us.  The brevity of our lives in the span of history might be depressing if this world was all there was.

Fortunately, a life span on planet earth is not all that there is for those who are in Christ.

MSO warm up

MSO warm up (Photo credit: vigilant20)

I have heard this life described as the warm-up for the symphony.   As we move along the narrow road, we are fine tuning our walk; we play our part of the score on our own or maybe with a few others; we might strike the wrong note; we might play with poor timing; we might play with near perfection.  However, no musician has ever laid down his instrument and walked from the stage after a perfect performance in the warm-up.  They don’t take a bow after tuning-up because they have not come for the warm-up.  They are there for the symphony. For those in Christ, our symphony gets its full voice when we take our place among the redeemed.  The beautiful sound of the redeemed praising their redeemer will be a performance beyond what this world can even contain.  Paul tells us that nothing is this world, not even his suffering, is worth comparing to the glories that will be revealed to us.  Those are the glories that we are currently warming-up for.  It is for those glories that we continue to diligently and obediently follow our Lord through this life.

The full symphony is coming. 

The time when we will be freed from this sinful flesh to fully glorify our Lord and Savior is not far way.  I don’t believe that there will be any of the redeemed who will be disappointed that their warm-up was forgotten when they raise their voice before the King of kings.

In glory, they will know that the Most High never forgot their warm-up.  They will know that their Shepherd will have brought them to that moment for that purpose; the purpose for which we were created and will finally and fully fulfill.

When compared to the glories that we are being called to, the value of being remembered by this world is but a trinket.

So, let us keep this world in perspective.  Let us not mourn over its brevity or our insignificance.  Let us warm-up well.  Let us set our hope on what is coming.  Let’s enjoy this life and the works that we have been given but may we never forget:

 the best is yet to come.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me so much to look forward to.  I can’t wait.  Lord, come quickly.  Help me to make the most of the time that you have given me here.  Help to warm-up well.  Help me to make the most of all the opportunities that you provide.  Help me to glorify you in all that I do in anticipation of the glories that are coming.  I long for the day that you bring me to my place among the redeemed.  You truly have blessed me in abundance.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



June 25, 2013

“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?  He who argues with God, let him answer it.”  Job 40:2

 Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
I don’t know.

Why does God allow natural disasters?
I don’t know.

Why does God allow sickness?
I don’t know.

The Lord Answering Job Out of the Whirlwind, f...

The Lord Answering Job Out of the Whirlwind, from the Butts set. Pen and black ink, gray wash, and watercolour, over traces of graphite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are but a few of the questions that get asked of God from hurts.  I realize that there are theological answers to these questions.  However, the troubled are not usually crying out for theology.  They desire understanding.  They seek comfort in knowing why something bad is happening to them or their family.  They hope that in knowing the purpose behind their pain that their minds might be eased. There is a great difference between seeking answers from God and seeking comfort. Comfort, usually, comes from God without understanding.  Most of the time, we will never know the purpose behind a tragedy.  Therefore, we come before our Lord in faith:

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?  Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  Job 42:2-3

There are questions that rarely get asked of God from abundance.

Why has God given me such a good family?
I don’t know.

Why has God given me a healthy body?
I don’t know.

Why has God given me a good job?
I don’t know.

Why has God kept me safe?
I don’t know.

These questions rarely get asked because we usually believe that we have the answer.  I have a tendency to associate good times with normal.  My life should normally be filled with blessing and abundance.  I view hard times and tragedies as abnormal.  That is why I am so quickly inclined to question God’s purposes when my life becomes abnormal.

Consider the pride in my mindset of normal; in assuming that I am due blessings and prosperity.  I imagine that the offense before God in our failure to acknowledge the source of our blessings is equal to that of our finding fault with Him in our pain.

Blessings provide physical and spiritual comfort but we must remember that they usually come to us from God without understanding.  Most of the time, we will never know the purpose behind  blessings or our prosperity.  Therefore, we must come before our Lord in faith:

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?  Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  Job 42:2-3

We kneel before God in the same silence of faith at all times; in times of need and in times of abundance.

PRAYER: Lord, you know all things.  All understanding is with you.  No purpose of yours can be thwarted.  Father, forgive me for demanding answers in my hurt.  Forgive me for not praising you in my blessings.  All things are from you and are yours.  Lord, increase my faith.  Grant me comfort in knowing that there are some things that are too wonderful for me to understand.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



December 18, 2012

“When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel…”Judges 6: 7

“And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” Judges 6:12-13

The question of “why” is as natural as breathing.  Gideon asked “why” his family and relatives were being regularly devastated by a foreign people.  In the same manner, people along the East Coast have asked “why” their homes and communities were ravaged by storms; People across the world ask “why” would a person murder so many innocent adults and children in Connecticut and China.  Tragedies usually result in a quest for the answer to “why”.

God answered Israel’s cries of “why” by sending them a prophet.

English: The Midianites Are Routed (Jud. 7:9-2...

English: The Midianites Are Routed (Jud. 7:9-25) Русский: Гидеон поражает стан Мадиамский (Суд. 7:9-25) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That response may seem completely inadequate in the face of a real threat. However, it is only inadequate when one does not consider the mercy that God shows us  by giving us a life of peace and prosperity. The personal tragedies experienced each year by the families in Israel were not the result of the weakness of their political system.  Their real problem required a prophet because their problem was spiritual.

 “And I said to you. ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell’. But you have not obeyed my voice.” Judges 6:10

 God gave an answer to Gideon’s question of “why”. Gideon’s country, community, and family were following false gods. Gideon’s own father had an altar to Baal in their backyard. The answer to “why” was very close, very real, with very real consequences. Gideon had the appropriate response to the “why” of his tragedy – cut down the altar.  It was then that the Lord could use Gideon and his country-men to stop the tragedy of the Midianites.

How are we going to respond to the tragedies of our time? Why is all this happening to us?  The answer to that question is not across the country. It is not in laws. It is not in funding mental health programs. It is not in education.

The answer to “why” is in my backyard and your backyard.

Many people feel powerless in response to the tragedies.  We need to realize that we all play a part.

I can do something.

You can do something.

We can do something!

We have the Word of God and it is calling us with the same message as to Gideon – cut down the altars in your own backyard.  That is what we can do.  Don’t look for someone else to do something. We need to start with ourselves.  It is when we respond to tragedies by getting our own lives and homes in order that we will be prepared to be used by God.

May these tragedies result in us examining what we worship and turning in obedience to the one who is calling us – God.

PRAYER: Lord – I pray that your grace and mercy will flow over those who are hurting in Connecticut, China, New York and New Jersey and all the other places where tragedy has struck.  Lord, you are the only true source of comfort; may you show your love in abundance to those who so desperately need it at this time. Father, I pray that you will call me, my family, your Church and this country to see what we are worshiping; that we will look in our own backyards before we seek for answers in other places. Lord, revive us to a new love for you – give us a passion to follow you with one heart.   Amen



December 15, 2012

“And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10B

I sit here on this beautiful morning with my mind reeling over the events that have transpired on the other side of this country. I want to believe that it is not real. I cannot imagine how it is real. My mind swims through the murk of contemplation of yet another school

How do you make sense of the senseless?

The newscasts are full of the same variety of images. The pundits will soon be espousing their opinions about the “how’s”, “why’s”, and “what now” in search of answers; as if they really know. The politicians will grab the spot light with sincere proposals about how to keep this from happening again; as if this was a failure of laws. Religious leaders will attempt to comfort a nation; many wondering if that is even possible.

Anger, forgiveness, hurt, strength, tears, peace, compassion, confusion and fear will all flow past us in the coming months. A year is going to flash past and we will observe this day and it will still be senseless. It will be senseless because the true cause of this tragedy will probably be pushed to the side.

This tragedy is the direct cause of not knowing God.

A world that does not know and love God does these sorts of things. Our world, societies, cultures, countries, cities, communities, and families are broken due to not knowing God. Tragedies, large and small, happen every day because the majority of this world does not know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We live in a broken world. Every once in a while, the spackle we apply to this world cracks open to reveal that it is still broken.

We can respond to that brokenness with shock and fear. We can take great measures to protect our families from the dangers of this broken world. However, we must not let fear cloud our perspective. This tragedy reveals our greatest need. The greatest danger to our children is not a crazed gunman.

The greatest danger to our kids is not knowing the Lord or the work that he has done.

I can make my house a fortress. I can go to great measures to protect my family from the dangers of this physical world but what does all that matter if their souls are lost. We have nothing to fear from this world. This world can do nothing to the redeemed. What comes next should be feared.

I cannot save my kids. I cannot make sure they are protected from their greatest danger but my God can do that.  Therefore, I must be faithful to the role that my great God has given me as a parent, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, a mentor, and teacher. The consequence of this sin of omission – failing to teach the next generation – is immense. It is like purposefully taking your child to a classroom with a crazed gunman and hoping they will work it out.

I must be faithful to teach the next generation who God is and what he has done. We cannot drop the ball on this one. What is the greatest love that we can show to our children?

“O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:” Psalm 44:1

The greatest love that we can show our children is that our faith is real.  The most loving gift that we can give them is that of a safe home. The most loving gift that we can give them is to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. It is when we show and teach our kids that our faith is real and alive and the most valuable possession that we have, then they will seek the Lord for themselves. The greatest of generations are the ones that teach the next to know the Lord and the work that he has done.

What are you doing to protect your family from its greatest danger?

PRAYER: Lord – I pray that your peace be upon all those associated with the senseless killings in Connecticut; a peace that goes beyond understanding because that is what is needed. Lord, show your love, mercy and grace upon all those who are hurting at deep levels. Father, thank you for overcoming this world. Thank you for not leaving us in this brokenness. Father – I pray for my kids; save them, reach out and draw them to yourself. Lord – give them the gift of eternal life, remove their condemnation and make them one of your children. Father – help me to be diligent and faithful in the role that you have given me; help me to show my kids that you are the one true God, that you are living and active, and that you are the way, the truth and life.    Amen

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