Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In the Face of Tragedy

Tragedy has a very personal face. An impersonal tragedy doesn't exist. I know many of these faces, here in Dulce and elsewhere through my life. I have been the face of tragedy at certain points in my past.
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I know the faces of mothers and fathers who lost beloved children to cancer... to accidents... to drugs... to murder...

I know the faces of wives who have lost their husbands too soon... and of husbands lost without their wives...

I know the faces of grandparents who are struggling to raise grandchildren damaged by violence...

I know the faces of women who want to be called "mom" and of men who want to be called "dad" so badly that every breath hurts...

I know the faces of children who have lost parents to death or imprisonment or apathy...

I know the faces of husbands and wives who have been betrayed...

And I know that you know these faces, too. Some of you have been these faces at certain points in your life. Tragedy is personal.

So what do we do, as Christians, when we are present in the face of tragedy?? How do we respond when someone reveals their personal tragedy??

My first answer, on the morning of the latest tragedy in our congregation here, came in Austin Bridges' song, Hold On to Jesus. We hold on to Jesus, and that's true. We cling to the truths given to us by the Bible: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13); "All things are possible for one who believes." (Mark 9:23); and "...we know that for those who love God all things work together for good..." (Romans 8:28)

But what about those times when we don't have the energy to hold on to Jesus?? What about those tragedies that seem to have no possibility of good?? What about the times when our strength fails completely?
I've been there.

And I've been with some as they faced those kinds of tragedies.

What then??

I think the answer is much deeper than "hold on to Jesus," as good as that is. Because when we have no more to give, no prayers to say, no strength to share, no silver-lining to glimpse...

Jesus holds on to us.

We don't have to do anything. We are His, and He loves us. He holds us in our tragedies; he carries us through the dark valleys. Romans 8:26 says, "Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

We don't have to have words to soothe the face of tragedy. We don't have to have answers or platitudes... or even hope. We are His. 

Jesus holds on to us.

Amen. And amen.

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