I was standing before my congregation on a Wednesday night. The prayer request that surfaced from a member was innocent enough, but I doubt they had completely thought through what they asked.
We lived fairly close to the South Carolina coast, and a dangerous hurricane was heading in our direction. It wasn’t the first time a hurricane threatened, nor was it the first time I had heard such a request. “Let’s pray that God will turn the hurricane away from us.” Though I acknowledged and commended the request, I couldn’t help but think: “So do you want him to send it someone else’s way?”
Tragedies strike our personal lives periodically and our world daily. If God is good and powerful, why doesn’t he stop them? Jesus’ disciples—and Jews in general, were immensely proud of their city and Temple. But when they pointed out the beautiful buildings to Jesus, he crushed their excitement. Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another! (Matthew 24:2 NLT)
Typically, I define tragedy as something terrible. Car accident, natural disaster, random killing, child abuse. Tragic occurrences. Their ultimate cause is sin which not only affects the natures of individuals—leading them to commit dastardly acts, but also the physical world—causing occasional unfortunate weather patterns as well as deterioration.
God, however, can turn tragedies into triumph. Since he allows sin to temporarily run rampant, tragedies come with the territory. As a parent can see what a child cannot and thus acts in the child’s best interest—even when it doesn’t seem good to the child, so God can do the same as our divine Parent. He can bring something good from a terrible set of circumstances. Churches filled because of 9/11, and an entire city repented when Old Testament Jonah preached to them.
Rather than growing despondent over the why of tragedies, determine how you can be a part of helping God bring good from it.
Prayer: Eternal God in heaven, when tragedy strikes, turn our eyes toward You so we can receive the wisdom needed to respond in healthy and beneficial ways.
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