Understanding Tragedy


Psalm 10:1
Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

The responses that we as Christians have towards tragedy in life
are far more important to God than the outcome of those tragedies.

Initially that may seem like a radical statement or a calloused statement, but in the weeks to come we will learn from the scriptures that the more we tend to struggle with tragedy in life, the greater the revelation that we just don’t understand the nature of life, or God’s involvement in our lives.

Why do tragedies occur in life?

Do tragedies befall us because of sin in our lives or sin in the lives of others; is it a result of evil in the world and the fallen state of man; is God punishing us or trying to humble us because of pride; is God just doing something that we can’t comprehend or see because the scope of his work is beyond our understanding; is God prompting us to trust him more? Is he disciplining us or rendering judgment?

The answer to all of these questions is yes.

Tragedy can come into our lives as a result of all of these things, but the specific reasons why a particular tragic event has occurred in our lives may be much more difficult, even impossible to ascertain. Sometimes tragedy comes as a result of sin and sometimes God spares us from tragedy in spite of our sin. Sometimes we misunderstand the events of our lives or mischaracterize what is happening to us. We blame God when we are at fault and we fail to credit God for what his sovereign role over our lives has protected us from.

As Christians walking through this world, it is important for us to be able to offer some understanding of tragedy. In the midst of tragedy, we Christians find ourselves in a difficult but strategic position to answer some of the confounding questions that are being asked in the world around us.

How tragic for the world to see Christians wavering at a time when what they are looking for is a sense of constancy and assured faith, how tragic to look for answers from Christians and get responses like this: I can’t understand it, I am questioning the existence of God myself.

Some have faced tragic circumstances in life and were unable to overcome the idea that a loving God could allow such meaningless evil; and have turned away from believing in or following after him.

From a Biblical standpoint we see that people have it wrong when they erroneously conclude there is no God because bad things have happened to good people. The Bible in no way, ever, insinuates that believers in Christ or even the so-called innocent in life, will avoid tragedy. Nor do the scriptures imply that God will always give us the answers we long to hear, or the understanding we long to experience when we face troubles and heartache in life. The Bible is filled with accounts of tragedy happening to believers, and the responses they give in the face of those events. Tragedy is an integral part of life that is seemingly unavoidable from a Biblical viewpoint. Since this is true, we err when we conclude that God is not real or when we turn away from God in anger because of difficulties we face in life.

Responding to tragedy in those ways reveals that we have redefined who God is. We have misunderstood his nature. We display a poor understanding of life and we have a poor understanding of human nature. It shows that we have a poor understanding of the scriptures; and betrays in us a very weak faith at best and a false Christianity at worst. It shows we have little to no trust in God.

Christianity has hope when life is hopeless, we do have answers, we know a little of the heart of God and the Bible holds the key to all of life’s questions of “why”.

Sometimes the answers to those questions are not what we want to hear, but there are answers to those questions in the scriptures nonetheless.

The question of why tragedy has occurred is found throughout the scriptures, perhaps more overlooked though are those other instances in the scriptures where we find God asking us “Why” we may have done something or failed to do what he told us to do.

In the course of these studies, our aim is to internalize Biblical principles regarding tragedy so we are better prepared to live out or to give a Biblically based response when we face them in earnest either in our own lives or in the lives around us.

From our introductory lesson on understanding tragedy in our lives we discovered the following:

Tragedies that occur in life are in no way an indication that God doesn’t exist or that he doesn’t care, nor is it a valid excuse to stop following him or obeying him.

God is rarely silent though we very often do not perceive either what he is saying to us, or the manner in which he is speaking to us.

The responses that we have towards tragedy in life are far more important to God than the outcome those tragedies have in our lives.

When we ask our “why” questions in life, we must address them to the right sources which are: God in prayer; the Bible through devotional study; and Godly, trustworthy mentors in Christ.

We must also ask these difficult questions from a basis of faith in Christ that says: I may not understand why God allowed this to happen, but I know he is always right in his judgments and that he is not the author of evil.

When we ask God why he allowed something to happen in our lives, we should bear in mind that he may very well also be asking us a few “why” questions about our lives and faith.

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