I stood before my congregation on a Wednesday night. The prayer request from a member was innocent enough, but I doubt they had completely thought about what they asked.
We lived fairly close to the coast, and a dangerous hurricane was heading in our direction. It wasn’t the first time a hurricane threatened, nor was it the first time I had heard such a request. “Let’s pray that God will turn the hurricane away from us.” Although I acknowledged and commended the request, I couldn’t help but think: “So do you want him to send it someone else’s way?”
Tragedies strike our personal lives periodically and our world daily. If God is good and powerful, why doesn’t he stop them? Jesus’ disciples—and Jews in general—were immensely proud of their city and Temple. But when they pointed out the beautiful buildings to Jesus, he crushed their excitement. “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another” (Matthew 24:2 NLT)!
Typically, I define tragedy as something terrible: car accident, natural disaster, random killing, child abuse, tragic occurrences. Their ultimate cause is sin which not only affects the natures of individuals—leading them to commit dastardly acts—but also the physical world, causing occasional unfortunate weather patterns as well as deterioration.
God, however, can turn tragedies into triumph. Since he allows sin to run rampant temporarily, tragedies come with the territory. As a parent can see what a child cannot and thus acts in the child’s best interest—even when it doesn’t seem good to the child—so God can do the same as our divine Parent. He can bring something good from a terrible set of circumstances. Churches filled because of 9/11, and an entire city repented when Old Testament Jonah preached to them.
Rather than growing despondent over the whys of tragedies, determine how you can be a part of serving God to bring good from it.
Martin Wiles is an author, teacher, and freelance editor currently residing in Greenwood, South Carolina. He and his wife Michelle are founders and editors of Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles has authored Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), Morning By Morning,Morning Serenity, Grace Greater Than Sin (America Star Books), Authentic Christianity (Smashwords) and is a contributing author in Penned from the Heart (Son-Rise Publications), and Rise (Chaplain Publishing). He has served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday school lesson writer for the Baptist Courier and also written for LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. He has also been published in Open Windows, Proclaim, The Secret Place, Upper Room, Light from the Word, Reach Out Columbia, Mustard Seed Ministries, Journey Christian Newspaper,Common Ground Herald, The Quiet Hour, and Power for Living. He is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, and PCC Daily Devotions, and is a regular contributor for the Dorchester County Eagle Record, the Orangeburg County Times and Democrat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal. Wiles also serves as the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions , the Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire, and as a Proof Editor for Courier Publishing. You can follow him @linesfromgod.