Tragedy. Most of us have experienced it and those of us who have not, will. We live in a fallen world, a post-Genesis 3 world, and bad things happen. Accidents happen. People leave this earth suddenly, and often far too soon. Jobs suddenly move to another country, leaving scores of unemployed moms and dads. Marriages are rocked because someone “fell out of love,” or because a partner fell in love with another person. Children and grandchildren's “experimental phase” leads to a life of addiction, and maybe even prison. A routine doctor’s visit becomes not so routine with one scan. Yes, this is the fallen world that you and I live in, characterized by words such as: divorce, addiction, adultery, unemployed, accident, terrorism, cancer, shooting, racism, under the influence, suicide, and an almost unlimited list of many more. We all recognize phrases like; “never forget,” “black lives matter,” “me too,” and “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” In fact, our lives are so filled with tragedy that we have largely become numb to it. How many times do we see a headline announcing another tragic occurrence, only to scroll on to the next headline?
Tragedy is part of living in our sinful world, and it is unavoidable. The question that you and I need to deal with today is how do we handle tragedy? The Scriptures are filled with people who dealt with tragedy. Think about the tragedy of a global flood. Imagine explaining that headline to your children. Or imagine living in the first century of Christianity, and getting the news that a brother or sister has been persecuted and martyred. Or David. Think about David showing up at Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30 to find that his wives, and the wives and children of his soldiers, had all been taken captive. Can you imagine the emotions running through his mind? I can’t. The Bible says these men “wept until they had no more strength to weep (v4).” Such tragedy.
Notice how David handled this tragedy. First, David strengthened himself in the Lord (v6). When those inevitable times of tragedy strike, where do you find strength? I attend many funerals and I can typically tell who finds strength in the Lord and who doesn’t. Eyes and body language speak volumes to this regard. Then David inquired of the Lord (v8). David rightly sought the Lord’s direction for his next move. Perhaps you are a believer and this all sounds like common practice for you: find strength in God’s Word and you pray to him regularly in times of tragedy. Notice this next point though, because this may be where many Christians are lacking. After being strengthened, and after praying, David set out (v9). In other words, David took action. He did something. He acted on what he believed. Many will read their Bibles, and spend time in prayer, and then be content to sit in the rocking chair waiting on something to happen. Obviously, this will look a bit different for every person in every tragedy, but the principle remains true. You can not simply sit there. Be strengthened; be directed; and then, set out.
Recently, I stumbled upon the story of Kara Tippetts, and it has echoed in my mind for several weeks now. As I was preparing to preach this sermon from 1 Samuel 30, her story came back to mind, especially when I found where her story intersected with Brittany Maynard, a name that I was sadly familiar with. Kara and Brittany were two different young woman, living in two different states, with two different families, both diagnosed with two different terminal illnesses, and both with two vastly different approaches to handling tragedy. I have attached some links below. Spend some time this week reading Kara’s story and listening to some of her interviews. I promise you will be challenged, inspired, and convicted.
Mundane Faithfulness (Kara’s blog)
Watch my sermon Trusting God in Trials and Tragedies: