Lesson 7: How Do Godly Individuals Respond to Tragedy?

Understanding Tragedy


Elisha was a mighty man of God who carried out the prophetic ministry after Elijah was taken up into heaven. Yet despite how deeply he knew the Lord, how uniquely he was able to see into the spiritual realm of existence; despite all of his amazing exploits performed in the name of the Lord; despite the fact that he healed diseases in others; we read in 2 Kings 13:14:

Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died.

The wording implies he contracted some sort of debilitating disease that caused him to grow weaker and weaker until he died. Here is a man who raised a dead child back to life in the name of the Lord and yet he himself died of a disease that caused him suffering.

Had something gone wrong in his life? Had he forsaken the Lord so that the powerful working of the Spirit was no longer with him?

No, nothing of the sort occurred. Elisha lived a faithful life until the day he died after suffering from a disease, and yet he suffered from some disease and died of it.

The question for us today though is this: How did Elisha respond to the suffering he encountered?

From the text of his final actions in life, we see that he had no sense of bitterness or anger at God. We don’t see him blaming God. We don’t see him asking God why this had to happen to him or questioning God’s purposes or his plan, or even wondering why he can’t be healed as others had been.

We do see him continue on in his role as the nation’s spiritual leader. We do see him remain faithful to the calling he had been given as a prophet. Even with the last of his remaining strength he still serves the Lord faithfully.

That’s the response of the Godly in the face of heartache and tragedy. They are not so shaken by the events of this life, that they lose site of the hope in that life that follows.

That’s how the Godly respond in the face of tragedy: with faithfulness, by continuing to do the things that God has told them to do.

Even if the circumstances we face are beyond our comprehension he is still in control. God still holds the master plan of history in His hands, whether we can perceive it or not.
He is completely trustworthy.
He is completely Holy.
He is completely Merciful.
He is completely loving.

How do Godly individuals respond to heartache, loss, and tragedy?

Paul and Silas sang hymns.
Peter slept peacefully.
Hezekiah laid all of the evidence out before the Lord.
Habakkuk prayed for understanding.
Abraham just simply believed God.
David found strength in the Lord.
Stephen looked into heaven and saw Jesus. Then he asked the Lord to forgive his enemies.
Elijah took a pilgrimage to find answers from the Lord.
The apostles rejoiced for having been found worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the name of Jesus.
The Hebrew children stood firm in their faith.
Daniel kept on praying as he normally did.
Ezekiel just simply kept doing what the Lord told him to do.
Hannah went to church and wept before the Lord and prayed.
Joshua sought the Lord.
David wrote songs of praise to the Lord.
Nehemiah sat down and wept and mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then he prayed a prayer of repentance on behalf of himself and the nation.
Joseph trusted that God had a plan.
Jesus went into the garden to pray with his friends.

That’s how the godly respond to suffering and tragedy.

Takeaway Points:

Tragedies we face in life are not always an indictment against our character or actions. Regardless of the cause, the key for the believer is to remain faithful to the cross through the tragedy until the last of our earthly strength is gone and we enter into the presence of the Lord.

The Godly are not so shaken by the heartaches of life that they lose site of the hope they have in that life that follows.

The Godly respond in the face of tragedy with faithfulness, by continuing to do the things that God has told them to do.
The Godly don't blame God in the face of tragedy, nor do they try to thwart the purposes he reveals to them.

The Godly weep over the tragedies that befall men, but they also recognize that God is always right in his judgments and that he is not the author of evil.

The Godly recognize that God is still in control, even when they face tragedies they cannot comprehend.

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