My pastor gave a great sermon yesterday on fleeing from temptation, but in the middle of his talk he spoke about a personal tragedy that had struck his family just last week. His three year old was rushed to the hospital with a fever of over 105 and the doctors said she may have cancer. It took 36 hours for the test results to return with a negative diagnosis, but during those 36 hours and while his precious little girl was undergoing all sorts of painful tests, he began to question God.
How we as Christians react when tragedy comes our way is one of the best indications of our faith and our walk with God. There are usually two different ways believers react:
1. Why, God, Why? Why is this happening to me? I'm a good person. I go to church, pray, read my Bible, give to charities, volunteer for various ministries, even go on mission trips!!
2. I must have done something wrong. Surely God is punishing me.
Both reactions have ONE answer... and that answer is Jesus.
Jesus never sinned. He was flawless in all his doings, thoughts, and actions. Can you imagine? I can't. Yet He was perfect in every way. If anyone deserved to live a life of comfort and happiness without suffering, it was Him. Yet, His 33 years here on earth were nothing but suffering. In fact, I venture to say He suffered more than any other human being who ever existed. So, the answer to the first question is that if Jesus suffered so much and He was perfect, why should we expect not to suffer in our lives? In fact Jesus Himself said that we would suffer
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
And the Apostle Paul said
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, Phill 1:29
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, Phil 3:10
Yet, the answer to the second question is Jesus also. God does not punish us for our sins, our mistakes, our flaws. Why? Because Jesus already paid the penalty for ALL of them, Past, Present and Future.!!
So, what is our correct response when tragedy strikes?
Let's take our example from the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3. Upon their refusal to bow down to the King's image, King Neb threatened to toss them into a fiery furnace. Talk about a tragedy! I LOVE their response.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But
even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will
not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
Our response? Pray, cast your cares upon God. Trust Him, Honor Him, Love Him, and serve Him, no matter whether He heals that cancer or saves that loved one or gets you that job or restores your marriage or brings you a spouse. No matter if you get tossed into a fiery furnace or are threatened with losing your head. God is able to do all things and often does perform miracles in our lives and delivers us, but even if He doesn't, we trust Him. And just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we will find that Jesus is right there in the fiery furnace with us.