November 11th, 2018 will be a day that many in our small community of Globe-Miami will never forget. You see, it has become common for us to turn on the television and to hear news of tragic events in various places across the country, yet when it happens in your own backyard it hits you differently. “Why did this happen? Why would somebody do such a thing to another human being?” These and other questions flood our minds in the midst of such a tragic situation and it is likely that answers may never fully come.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow; will it be celebrated by those who lost loved ones? Will those who experienced such a tragic event even want to set aside a day to focus on giving thanks to God? Honestly, I cannot answer for them. And whatever they decide for themselves is okay. The amount of time that goes into healing from a situation like this varies. It will take time, prayer, and loving relationships for people to be able to truly heal. In times like these, one must hold on to the promises of God even when it seems difficult to do so. “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
Perhaps, you may say, “Don’t give me that ‘religious’ nonsense right now. If God is so great, why did this happen? Obviously, God doesn’t care. This is not a time for God!” Though that may be an appropriate reaction right now. In fact, throughout the Bible (particularly the Psalms) we see similar reactions when tragic events occur. This means that God understands us, He knows that life can be hard. So go ahead, be angry with God, He can handle it. But if you are going to be angry with God, tell Him!
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” -Psalm 13:1-2
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” -Psalm 22:1-2
“How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?” -Psalm 35:17
Truthfully telling God about your anger, fears, and sorrows can be the beginning of healing and growing. Through this time, you may discover you have much to give thanks for even in the midst of such suffering. I’m not saying it is easy, and I don’t mean to belittle the horrific nature of last week’s events. What I am trying to say is that once you express your feelings to God, don’t run from Him. Rest in Him. The words of Christ beckon us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
If you’ve ever read the book of Job, the first two chapters make completely no sense if you don’t keep in mind who God is. Job is a man blessed with many with good things. He has money, family, and integrity (a rare quality). But it doesn’t last. Job loses everything in one horrific day. All of his wealth is gone and all his children are killed. What will Job do now? In a moment such as this we might want to follow the advice of Job’s wife: “Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9) Yet, that is not his response. In the midst of sorrow, Job professes his continued trust and loyalty to God, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
How can he do that? How can Job be so naive? God must hate Job! Right? Otherwise, why would an all-powerful God allow this to happen? That is where the book of Job really shines as a insight into the mind of God as to the “hows” and “whys” of what God is doing in His people through heart-wrenching situation. God never leaves us or does anything without purpose. Job came to understand this after the long and difficult period of waiting and wondering. “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2) It was a time in Job’s life where the temptation is to despise and run from God; yet what we really need in times like these is to come to know God more, to come closer to Him. “I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” (Job 42:5)
I pray for the peace and comfort of God to envelope all of those who have been affected by this tragic event. I don’t pretend to know exactly how you are feeling right now, but I pray you will find a hope in God that will guide you as you move forward in your grieving and healing. Look to Christ, the One who sacrificed His own life that His people may live. Hear the promises that await those who have put their trust in Him: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) Until that day, live with hope in Jesus Christ.
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ