Trusting God in Tragedy
This devotional was written by Jim Burns
Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke 13: 4-5
When I heard the news about the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis, my heart sank. Intellectually, I understand that in our world, from time to time, bad things happen seemingly without rhyme or reason. Still, I find my heart disturbed. Why do these tragic things happen to people? Where is God when these things happen?
In today’s Scripture passage, Jesus points out what I already instinctively know. Bad things do happen – affecting people – but it’s not on account of an individual sin. The greater issue, according to our Lord, is the spiritual state of our hearts. “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
In fact, I think that part of a life of faith in God includes living with things we don’t understand. In Daniel 9:14, we read, …the Lord our God is righteous in everything He does.” Why God allows bad things to happen to people is an issue that won’t be resolved in this life. We simply cannot know with certainty. But, still we trust that God always does the right thing, even when we don’t understand. For example, take the Biblical account of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The Bible makes it clear that God “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh won’t let the Israelites leave Egypt. God, then holds Pharaoh responsible for his stubbornness and punishes him and all of Egypt as well. From a human perspective something seems wrong with the picture, but I still believe God is righteous – always doing what is right. He sees the big picture. I cannot. He understands completely. I do not. He is God. I am not.
Perhaps, you – like me – are making a list of things that you don’t understand, filing them away so you can ask God about them when you stand before Him one day. I don’t think God has a problem with this! When you encounter frustrations about life – and you find things you don’t understand – share them with God. He’s big enough to handle them. Then, resolve to believe that God, who is righteous, will always do the right thing. Live by faith, not by sight.
As Christians, let’s remember to keep those who have been affected by the Minneapolis bridge collapse in our prayers. May God provide an extra measure of comfort, hope, encouragement and wisdom to these people in the coming days.
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1. If you could ask God any one question and know that you would get an answer, what would your question be? Pray, asking God to grant you wisdom and patience as you wrestle with the answer to this question.
2. With so much tragedy and injustice in the world, why do you keep believing in God? Thank Him for the living and active gift of faith in your life.
Isaiah 55:8-9; Exodus 7-12; Romans 9:14-24
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