Facing Tragedy

Job 14:1 reads - "Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble." Yes indeed, life on Earth is full of trouble, trials, and tragedies. Adversity is never far from any mortal, even the righteous. James writes - "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4). It's not a matter of if, but when. Followers of Christ should expect trouble to come their way. Such has the potential to refine us and help us mature. But how? How should a child of God respond? Consider this acronym for F.A.C.I.N.G. tragedies:

FOCUS on the unseen.
Paul wrote in II Corinthians 4:16-18 - "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." He also declared in Colossians 3:1-3 - "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." This world is not our home, and tragedies can help remind us of that fact. We must focus our attention on the glorious life beyond this temporal realm of trials, suffering, and death. Our hope is not grounded in our present condition.

Proverbs 3:5,6 commands - "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." James wrote in 4:13-15 - "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'" We ought to acknowledge God every day, but especially when tragedy strikes. Our own wisdom is insufficient; we must trust God, His words, and His providence. May we flee from the pride of self-sufficiency and the arrogance of what we believe is certain (e.g., regarding business, health, etc.). There are few certainties in life under the sun except the promises God has bestowed.

CAST your burdens upon the Lord.
The psalmist wrote - "Cast your burdens on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved" (Psa. 55:22). Peter instructs us - "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (I Peter 5:6,7). When tragedy strikes it is no proof that God no longer loves us. He will sustain us, but we must lean upon Him in prayer. He will carry us through great suffering with His strength and hope; He will not forsake us.

INVESTIGATE the Scriptures.
Paul wrote in II Timothy 2:15 - "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Psalm 119:11 reads - "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You." Every day is a good day to drink deeply from the word of God, and this is even more important when tragedy strikes. Spend more time with the Lord, not less. Be strengthened by His word and examine yourself to make certain of your faith and your walk with the Almighty (cf. II Cor. 13:5).

NUMBER our days.
Psalm 90:12 says - "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." I Peter 3:10-12 reads - "For 'He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." Tragedies remind us of our mortality, and that is a good thing. Let us use our health, strength, and life to do good in God's name. Let us pursue righteousness with zeal!

GIVE thanks.
I Thessalonians 5:18 commands - "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Paul also wrote in Ephesians 5:20 - "Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." Whether we are on top of the mountain or deep in the valley, every day and circumstance is one to direct thanksgiving to our great God. May we never forget this truth!