A family loses their beloved patriarch; two weeks later the matriarch follows. A woman in her thirties dies suddenly of a massive heart attack. Innocent people are killed at a well-known marathon. A father incurs a deadly infection after surgery and never leaves the hospital.
I always seem to have more questions than answers when tragic occurrences crop up. Death is a daily part of someone’s life and so is tragedy. But how to cope with the unanswered questions is the dilemma.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NLT).
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s book, On Death and Dying, introduced the world to the now famous five stages people experience on the way to coping with and finally accepting their fear of death. While the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are common, not everyone travels in that order or necessarily experiences each one of them.
Grieving in the face of tragedy is a natural process just as showing expressions of joy is when things are going well. I’ve traveled the road personally, and my profession has given me numerous opportunities to traverse it with others. The stages are dreadfully real.
While I don’t always have the answers for me or anyone else, this much I know: God loves, gives me strength for anything he initiates or endorses, brings good from apparent bad situations, provides a peace I can’t begin to comprehend, and promises me an eternal home where tragedy is absent. This knowledge-along with experience, helps me endure and overcome tragic circumstances.
Learn to trust God in the midst of tragedies rather than falling captive to enslaving emotions and habits.
Prayer: Merciful Father, when tragedy attempts to twirl us to other things for help in coping, rotate our hearts and emotions toward You.
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