In the wake of the yesterday’s Boston Marathon Bombing, December’s Newtown, CT shooting and tragedies that have filled the news everywhere, I wanted to list a few brief promises or encouragements from Scripture. The bottom line is that tragedies will happen- and they will happen to us, whether on a large public scale or the tragedies that occur in our personal lives that very few people ever see. The question becomes how we respond to tragedies- or how our faith prepares us to walk through these times of trials.
- God is with us: In Isaiah 7:14, a passage that the NT views as a prophecy of the Messiah, we are told, “Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign; The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will cal him Immanuel.” Immanuel means, “God with us.” We can be encouraged that God is with us regardless of what we’re walking through.
- God Never Leaves Us: Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” In the midst of trials, tragedies, and difficulties we have a promise from Scripture that God does not leave or forsake us. It may sometimes feel that way, but we must have faith that God is there-even at our lowest points. This is reason for courage!
- God Leads Us Through Death Valley: In the 23rd Psalm, the Psalmist writes, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley (Valley of Death in KJV), I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Again, we have a promise that God is with us, protecting us- and leading us through the most difficult of times. The Psalm doesn’t say that God will lead us around, over, or under- but right through whatever trial or tragedy that we are facing.
- God Weeps With Those Who Weep: One of the most powerful story in the New Testament is the story when Lazarus dies in John 11. Jesus was called to come to Lazarus’ aid, but didn’t immediately go. Lazarus dies and his sisters, Mary and Martha, are not very happy about it. When Jesus arrives and encounters Lazarus’ sisters, he is moved to tears. John 11:35 says that “Jesus wept.” This is important because Jesus is divine, Jesus is God. God weeps over the death of a friend. I have to believe that because of God’s goodness and love, that God weeps with those who weep. When we are broken; when we weep- we have a God who weeps with us. God is not unmoved- but moved by love and compassion. (By the way, Jesus also wept over Jerusalem before his death! Luke 19:41)
- Jesus Understands: The author of the book of Hebrews writes in 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” Jesus has been tempted and hurt in every way. He was tempted by Satan, he was mocked by the religious leaders, people tried to arrest and kill him, he was betrayed, abandoned, beat, and killed. Jesus, God-in-Flesh, went through all that and can identify and empathize with what we are experiencing. This means that we are not alone in the midst of trials and tragedies, even when it feels like it. Because Jesus can empathize, we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence in order to find mercy and grace in times of need.
There are more promises and passages in the Bible that speak to our lives when we experience tragedy- but these promises are foundational to the life of a Christian as we deal with what is going on in our world. As Christians, we must develop a world-view that has faith that God is with us, for us, and not against. While this world-view will not necessarily lessen the blow of tragedy, it will help us frame what happen in a perspective that allows us to come to God, cry on God’s shoulder, and approach God’s throne to receive mercy and grace.
There is one final promise that I feel must be mentioned. It’s found throughout the Bible, most notably in the account of the resurrection and in Revelation 21. It’s the over-arching story of the Bible through all 66 books. That God is redeeming and making all things new.It’s the promise that evil and death are defeated, sin is defeated; brokenness is healed; captives are set free; there will be no more tears; no more pain; no more suffering; no more death- because God is making all things new through Jesus. When that day comes that God dwells with his people, creation will be redeemed and restored by the love that compelled Jesus to the Cross. That is something we can put our faith in!