When tragedy strikes, the world seems to wake up. Upon waking the beast, in rolls the questions. I never get highly defensive or waste my breath in religious debates. If you pursue truth and ask the Lord to reveal it, I’m 100% confident that 100% of the time he will. That doesn’t mean we don’t or won’t think or hear these very real…and honest questions in the aftermath.
Where was God in this?
Why did he allow this to happen?
Why didn’t he stop it?
What kind of God allows these things to occur?
Extreme tragedies, ones that our minds cannot comprehend or process, lead people back to foundational questions they had previously been working overtime to remain oblivious to. It’s easier in day to day life to disregard questions without easy-to-google answers than to admit you’re not quite sure. But when life doesn’t allow you to blissfully skip pass tragedy, like the shooting in Newtown, CT, it’s time to stop and demand answers (yay! wake up america).
One of the saddest realities I see in Christians today isn’t their inability to ask questions but their lack of diligence to pursue answers. I don’t think we will ever have all the answers, I don’t intend for my life’s pursuit to be about knowing all the answers, but I do want to be a solid representation of who Christ is in all things- especially tragedy. That means I need to have some answers. Why?
Because it’s unavoidable.
There is an enemy in this world. His strategy is to mark all he encounters with death. He is passionate about his pursuit. He is strategic in selecting his targets. He is relentless in accomplishing his goals. He is smart. He is charming. He is aware he is on a countdown and his execution time is limited.
I am very confident that this is not the first nor last time tragedy is going to knock on my (or the world’s) door. I’m also VERY confident that over the next few years we will begin to see more his strategies come to light. Small, frightening and highly unjust strategic plans to destroy a people who should be the smartest, healthiest and strongest on the planet. Instead, we’re the sickest, emptiest, most self absorbed and in many ways naive people on the planet.
So often when tragedy strikes at any level, but most definitely at what feels like an extreme level like last week’s shooting, people begin demanding answers and the christian community in what should be their finest hour cowers in confusion, as though, we somehow don’t have the answers. Instead of providing answers with substance, we ignore the question and hope our church smile and “God will turn this around for his glory” provides a band-aid long enough for the person to be distracted. I wasn’t even directly affected and I’m calling “B.S.” on that one.
Instead, we leave a people confused and unsure of who God is and where he is in the important life moments.
American churches are filled with politically correct, practically perfect presentations that paint a beautiful and polished picture of Christianity. It’s lovely and very feel-good oriented. However, there is no feel good presentation in the world that can counteract the tragedy our nation has fixed its eyes on this last week. When your heart is shattered and stays broken for people you don’t know and situations you cannot understand, people want real answers.
Christians who don’t cower in the face of tragedy are not only familiar with the beauty & life altering power found on the cross, but are sure in their perspective of who God is and where he is in the midst of death. Tragedy doesn’t push them away from God it propels them to him. It’s my goal to always be this girl.
Death is all around us. In America, death doesn’t always looks like starving children and those without shelters or basic necessities. Death looks like people relationally starved, conditionally loved, absent minded, angry, abused, those who are unaware that the innate cry in their heart is to know a creator not just find a passion or build the “american dream”.
Death, to be effective, has to be strategic. Our enemy is very strategic to kill what is pure, innocent and what you deeply love. Our enemy is purposeful in knowing he can’t kill everyone physically, but we can kill you emotionally, relationally, financially, purposefully….
Does this make sense yet?
Churches talk a lot of learning to recognize the “Lie of the Enemy” in your own life to be a daily overcomer. Do you feel insecure, unloved, unwanted, unqualified, etc? God words says something very different about who we are and what we were created to do than the lie the enemy is tirelessly working to pierce our heart’s with.
Churches do not talk a lot of the strategy of the enemy to disarm and disable a people. I cannot think of anything more effective, including actual death, than to have the face of the body of Christ be one that is defeated, confused…and hopeless. It’s actually quite brilliant. Who wants to be a child of a king if you walk around looking like a pauper as though it was somehow your plight to live your days suffer in his name? Womp Womp.
Let’s be honest, we emulate and are drawn to what we WANT or WANT TO BE. Not what we don’t want to be….Ain’t no body got time to be that.
Back to my question- Where is Christ in tragedy?
The answer seems so simple. I don’t know how we miss it. *drum roll, please*
He is in us. Like literally his hope is infused into our DNA. His moment to shine is in our response, our touch, our smile and our hope in the midst of extreme pain and sadness. It’s in our unshakeable stance that he is a God of love and life. It’s in the strength he releases to keep going when others cannot. It’s in the ability to stand INSIDE the fire and yet not be burned (totes my fav one).
Christianity is not a promise that you will not ever be thrown unjustly or strategically into the fire, but holy heavens, you better believe when I’m standing in the middle of the fire I WILL NOT BE BURNED.
Luke 4:18 is pretty darn clear….
God’s Spirit is on ME;
he’s chosen ME to preach the Message of good news (not death, suffering or depression) to the poor,
Sent ME to announce pardon (freedom) to prisoners and
recovery (healing) of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free (physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally),
to announce (we must act, speak, declare), “This is God’s year to act!”
You see, it’s actually quite amazing what you can find in the fire
So the question is actually not at all where is God in tragedy- it’s are you getting burned or walking with the angels in the midst of the fire.
I love the story in Daniel 3, you should read it.
Three men are thrown into the fire. Before getting bound up and put into the fire they told the King “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king.” If I were giving awards, these guys would get the christian bad ass award for 2012. The king has them thrown into the fire. Next thing the king sees is four men walking around freely in the fire. The three men were no longer bound up AND they were walking around in the fire with a fourth man (dare we say Jesus). Nobody was freaking out…they were chillin with Jesus in the fire.
Where was God in their tragedy? He was walking with them…literally & visibly to all those around them.
I love that. The fire was the strategic plan of the enemy to bring death upon these men, but in reality it was the birthing ground for the Lord to bring both freedom to the men and the people around them. AND to show that in the midst of tragedy, he is there literally.
If you know who God is….
- then in the midst of fire you are not afraid
- when you come face to face with death, you know his promise
- the strategic pursuit of the enemy to sow death into your relationships, health, emotions, family, etc becomes highly personal
- you’re drawn to him and not pushed away from him in the midst of tragedy
- when the fire comes, you expect him to show up.
- tragedy is viewed as the pursuit of the enemy to sow death into your life, not the act of a heartless God or your plight to suffer
If you don’t know who God is….
- your circumstances dictate your emotions and response to tragedy
- God is both the cause and answer to your tragedy (which is so confusing I hated typing that)
- seeds of death (doubt and mistrust) are sowed into your heart. If you can’t trust the Lord in your deepest pain and darkest hour, why would you trust him in your victory.
- you think God is working spontaneously in lives of everyone……but yours
It’s not only important but VITAL we know and can differentiate the authors of life and death in our world.
Naive Christianity accepts surface level, feel-good responses as foundational truths you can build your life upon, but when life blows (literally) and your world is falling apart, to be the christian that exemplifies who God is and his plan and purpose for your life you have to be pursuing him before the fire arrives and not naively living as though fires to do not exist are not going to be a part of your future. It’s your security in his purposes before the fire that sets the platform for the a walk with Jesus that people will talk about for thousands of years to come…..