Recently I told you about how our van was broken into while we were on a road trip. I told you about what an incredible inconvenience it was and I also told you about how the Lord protected and even blessed us in those unhappy circumstances. I encouraged you to give thanks, even in the difficult times. But in the grand scheme of life, being robbed isn't a life-changing event. It doesn't leave your soul broken and aching the way genuine tragedies do. How do we make sense out of the world and out of God's plan for us when life goes desperately wrong?
In the past 6 months I've had dear, dear friends experience tragic loss… the kind of loss that makes your heart break for them and a deep secret part of your soul hope that what happens to them never happens to you, although you know it very easily could. And then you feel bad for feeling that way. One friend lost her husband to cancer. They were one of those couples who clearly adored each other and they had 4 children together who are now growing up without an earthly father. Her husband was such a godly man that even people who had never met him knew how deeply he loved Jesus.
Another friend was excitedly planning for the birth of her baby. This was a “rainbow baby”…. she had previously lost a baby to an early miscarriage and as her due date drew nearer, everyone was excitedly preparing to welcome this new little blessing. And then just days before he was to make his arrival, his heart inexplicably stopped and he was born still.
Both these situations couldn't have happened to sweeter, more wonderful people. Both situations made me wonder, “Why them, God? Why are they walking through this?”
Here's the thing. When tragedies happen, people try to find comfort in knowing that God is still in control. So we say weak things like “Well, it was God's will, we just don't understand it.” But here's the thing. In God's perfect Will, babies don't die. Husbands don't leave wives and children behind to grow up without him. God hates death and suffering because it is completely contrary to His nature.
Everything about our planet right now is because we are out of God's will. The entire planet is groaning under the weight of sin. There is nothing about our existence that is part of His original Plan for us. Absolutely everything that happens is part of Plan B. None of this is what God wants for us. He didn't create us for this and we can't understand it because it's not understandable.
A very wise old minister once told me that everyone goes through a time of Gethsemane in their life at least once. It's these times that makes us long for Jesus. These tragedies are our Gethsemane. Just as Jesus relied on his Heavenly Father for strength, our only recourse in tragic times is to rely on that same Heavenly Father who promises the same strength and grace to us.
And for those times when we are watching someone else walk through their personal Gethsemane… This is our opportunity to minister to them, as if we were ministering to Jesus himself.