The Brevity of Life has hit closer to home this week as two families we know have gone through some significant and overwhelming circumstances. There is always something so shocking when a tragedy or sudden illness befalls a family. People that you just visited with can become very sick, and people that you think will always be around can be suddenly taken away.
The rush and range of emotions can leave you beaten and battered as you are holding on for dear life, just trying to get through the situation. The storms of this past week have been deep, jarring reminders that our lives are as the Bible says, just vapors (see James 4:14). We do not know how to think or feel during these times. We cry out to God for our friends as they go through this. The questions come, and we begin to wonder what God is up to. Is there purpose and meaning in the events. If Life is not random and nothing really happens by chance, then there can be no doubt that there is purpose in these things. The question of why comes and we begin to flesh out what is going on and what does this mean for us?
In John chapter 9, we see the disciple's perspective on the question of why. The text says:
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world."
As we look at this passage we come into it with the common human perspective of what did this person do wrong to cause this to happen. Apparently, this was a common way of thinking to the Jews. Unfortunately, it has been commonplace among the church for years with everything falling into a category of doing good means blessing and doing bad brings about tragedy. Example: They must have sinned, that's why this has happened to them.
This whole myth is debunked by Christ's death on the cross! Just because something bad happens does not mean the person or persons deserved it because of sin. Clearly, Jesus presents an argument here that the fact that the man was blind from birth is tied directly to Him walking through this city many years later and providing healing! His words “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” should apply to all scenarios. He does nothing that is not according to His Will and Purpose for us. We may not always understand the reasons, but He does have a purpose!
To look at these events from a doom and gloom perspective is nonsense. The fact is that He has told us we will have trials and sorrows (see John 16:33). But the end of the verse is key. “I have overcome the world.” Going back to the beginning of the verse, He has promised to give us His peace, which is important. Because this all-encompassing peace, this peace that surpasses all understanding is what will hold us together through the tragic events. He has promised to be with us as we go through these events (Matthew 28:20) and even to carry us through them (Isaiah 46:4).
I can remember times in my life where different events could be seen as tragedies and the confusion and questions would come. A fellow church family lost their house due to the children playing with matches. A pastor and his wife lost their two boys when one of them fell asleep at the wheel on the way home from college. A church member developed muscular dystrophy and was confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life. A young man was shot and killed by a friend as they were turkey hunting because he was mistaken for a turkey. (This was before the law was passed for hunters to wear blaze orange.)
My family as well, went through auto accidents and it seemed that each time we were searching for the cause and why God would allow these things. Or could it be that someone in the family had sinned so greatly that it caused this car accident? Having this mindset causes a lot of false ideas and beliefs. To think that every accident, every evil thing that happens is God's judgement on an individual or nation is rubbish and is usually a result of incorrect thinking. Now I am not saying that God never does that. What I am saying is that we do not get to decide if every case is God's judgement.
Along those lines, I know there were times when I sinned and God punished me for it. I know now that every time that I have questioned the why, that God has revealed His Purposes for it at a later time. Whether through my own sins or by things that have just happened to me, every event has been for His Glory and purposes. That doesn't mean that I have liked what has happened to me or that I didn't wish for them to just go away. What it does mean is that I have had to choose to stay with it and try and discover how He would get the glory through it. Even the things that were way less than desirable to me.
I remember going through the lowest point in my life; the toughest thing that had happened to me up to that point, and crying out to God. As He was the Only One who knew what I was going through, He led me to a point during this extended period of disappointment and stress, that I discovered His Incredible Peace. Not that I was loving the situation that I had found myself in. Not that it was just a breeze to walk through. But that He was there when I needed to be Held, even as I was holding everything in and keeping it a secret from the world.
The mind-blowing Peace that I was experiencing helped me to carry on with life even as the situation continued to unfold. I still had to work, go to the grocery store, and try to walk as best I could through the roller-coaster ride of emotions that were trying to toss me about. But I found in Him, my Anchor. The Rock that I could cling to and I was not about to let go. As I got closer and closer to accepting His Will for me through this struggle, it seemed as if He carried me. He would not let me go, even as the waves of emotion tried to drive me down to the depths. I found myself pleasantly buoyed by His Presence. I knew with certainty that the uncertainty that lay ahead of me, would be far better; for I knew that He was with me.
This is how we must walk through the fire and trials of this life. To hold onto the One who will Never let go of us. To run to the arms of the One who will protect us in the Shadow of His Wings. To seek comfort from the Only One who can give us real Comfort. When our hearts are crushed, He becomes the Strength of our hearts.
We cry out to the One who intercedes for us with groanings when we can't form the words. We run to Him who is our Fortress and Strong Tower. To hide in the cleft of the Rock. He is the One Who Hears us, who knows our hearts and thoughts. The One who cares, when we feel that He doesn't. The One who upholds us, when we can't tell that He is there. Our Ever-Present Help, our Strength and Shield, Our Portion and Deliverer. To never quit and never give up, because He is Holding onto You. He is Sustaining you. He is Able to turn All things for His Glory. He is only after our Ultimate Good! And He Will Never Leave you or Forsake you! Hold onto that! Never let go of the One who will never let go of you!