Facing tragedy, or life storms of any kind, can be extremely difficult. But in the midst of heartache and pain, you can find the hope and courage to go on. With God’s help, the help of caring family members and friends, and the encouragement found in the Bible and other resources, you will receive the necessary strength to overcome.
You may be thinking, I don’t know how I could ever get through this. Or you may be battling powerful feelings of despair, suffering, confusion, fear, worry, and even anger. These are all normal responses to tragedy.
But as difficult as this life storm may be, you are not alone. God is with you always. He loves you, and cares about what is going on in your life. He hears your cries and sees your pain. Moreover, He understands.
The Bible says, “And it was necessary for Jesus to be like us, his brothers, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God, a Priest who would be both merciful to us and faithful to God … For since He himself has now been through suffering … He knows what it is like when we suffer … and He is wonderfully able to help us” (Hebrews 2:17-18 TLB). Whatever we endure, His care is certain, His love is unfailing, and His promises are secure.
You Are Not Alone
For he himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5c)
On the morning of October 29, 2012, hundreds of thousands of people in portions of the Caribbean and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States faced their worst nightmare … “Superstorm Sandy.” This post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds and its unusual merge with a frontal system affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, leaving death, injuries, and utter destruction in its wake. Families everywhere, especially in hard hit New Jersey and New York, were jolted out of normalcy and the comfort and security of the homes and communities they once knew. They were thrust suddenly and unwillingly into the darkness and despair of loss.
If you and your family have ever been affected by a natural disaster like this, you may feel as if you’ve been abandoned by God. However, if trouble has hit your life in some other disaster or form of tragedy—the death of a loved one, a dreaded medical diagnosis, the loss of home and property, or the loss of your job, you are experiencing your own superstorm. You may feel as if your whole world has been turned upside down and wonder how you can possibly survive the loss. In times like these, you can feel very much alone.
But you are not alone. In the midst of unspeakable sorrow, God is with you. Even if you do not feel Him near, God is there. He promises to never leave you alone. Therefore, wherever you are, God is. He is with you before, during, and after the storm, never losing sight of you, or your suffering. Even as you ponder how you will begin picking up the pieces of your life, God is there … loving you beyond understanding, holding you up, and making a way where it seems there is no way. Reach out for Him today. He is a very present help in times of trouble (see Psalm 46:1).
Taking back your life …
- Psalm 139:7-10 says, “I can never be lost to Your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, You are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, Your strength will support me” (TLB). What assurance can you find in these verses of Scripture when you are feeling as if God has forgotten you?
- In Psalm 23, David pictures the Lord as the Great Shepherd who provides for and protects His sheep (His children). In verse 4, he says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” A shepherd uses his rod to protect his sheep (by using it to beat off wild beasts), and he uses his staff to guide them. What comfort can you find in knowing that God will protect and guide you during this difficult time?
- In addition to needing God’s presence in our lives, we also need each other. Talk with your family or friends about the way you are feeling, so that you can share one another’s burdens, and not feel so alone in your suffering.
Truth is Exclusive and Absolute
Some people are offended by truth because of its very nature— it is exclusive and it is absolute, not relative. The absolute nature of truth means that it does not depend on, nor is it changed by, people’s opinions. For example, if someone says, “There is no God,” that does not affect the existence of God. It only shows that the person is ignorant. Truth is also exclusive, meaning that it is “narrow” because it excludes anything contrary to it. Unfortunately, in the spiritual world, some people view the narrow nature of truth as “narrow mindedness.” We all recognize the narrowness of truth when it comes to the physical world. People do not put water in their gas tanks or jump from tall buildings if the elevator is full. We train our children to do what is “right” (like looking both ways before crossing a street), and not to do what is “wrong” (like running with a knife) so they will live safely in our “narrow minded” world.
There is a false belief held by some Christians, sort of a Christian myth, that if you are a good Christian you will not offend anyone. In fact, a Christian who offends people is sometimes considered to be just one more arrogant, insensitive, narrow-minded Christian, because it is thought that “true” Christians are sensitive and considerate, and never offend anyone.
To be sure, there are Christians who offend others by their tone of voice, overbearing manner, or by insistence on things that could be called “dogma” rather than truth. This article is not intended to excuse prideful Christian behavior, attitudes, or hardheartedness. History shows that there have been and still are many Christians who do not act very Christ-like. Much could be said about the great need for Christians to walk in love, have good character and demonstrate the fruit of the spirit.
Luke 7:23 (King James Version)
It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ, for the offense may be the result of my circumstances. I may find myself confined to narrow areas of service, or isolated from others through sickness or by taking an unpopular stance, when I hoped for much wider opportunities. Yet the Lord knows what is best for me, and my surroundings are determined by Him.Wherever He places me, and my surroundings are determined by Him. Wherever He places me me, He does so to strengthen my faith and power and to draw me into closer communion with Himself. And even if confined to a dungeon, my soul will prosper.
The offense that causes me to turn from Christ may be emotional. I may be continually confused and troubled over questions I cannot solve. When I gave myself to Him, I had hoped that my skies would always be fair, but often they are overcast with clouds and rain. But I must believe that when difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him completely–to trust and not be afraid. And it is through my mental and emotional struggles that i am being trained to tutor others who are being tossed by the storm.
The offense causing me to turn away may be spiritual. I had imagined that once within His fold, I would never again suffer from the stinging winds of temptation. Yet it is best for me the way it is, for when I endure temptation His grace is magnified, my own character matures, and heaven seems sweeter at the end of the day. learning to trust a righteous God that has proven Himself faithful, wonderful, marvelous and excellent is a painful but worthwhile endeavor to encounter in this life. Once I arrive at my heavenly home, I will look back across the turns and trials along my path and will sing the praises of my Guide. So whatever comes my way, I will welcome His will and refuse to be offended in my loving Lord.
Blessed is he whose faith is not offended,
When all around his way
The power of God is working out deliverance
For others day by day;
Though in some prison dark his own soul does fail,
Till life itself be spent,
Yet still can trust his Father’s love and purpose,
And rest therein content.
Blessed is he, who through long years of suffering,
Not now from active toil,
Still shares by prayer and praise the work of others,
And thus “divides the spoils.”
Blessed are you, O child of God, who does suffer,
And cannot understand
The reason for your pain, yet will gladly leave
Your life in His blest Hand.
Yes, blessed are you whose faith is “not offended”
By trials unexplained,
By mercies unsolved, past understanding,
Until the goal is gained.
I am experiencing the trial of my life at this very moment as I write this post. I cannot understand how any of this is working out for my good. I cannot see the victory coming or even piercing the doom and gloom I am faced with, but by faith I believe God is here and will make a way out of what seems to be no way. Our Father is forever acquainted with His permissive will and will see us through every storm. The pain is I believe to burn away our reliance on self.
I am going to cloth myself in His clothing, I am going to walk in the spirit, I am going to give thanks for Him trusting me to stand in His finished work and declare and decree victory though it seems so far away from reality. He will rescue me and receive His glorious praises from my unworthy vessel.
We are always on the anvil; by trials God is shaping us for higher things.
Henry Ward Beecher
Shabach the Lord of All Zion,
As you go through your life dear Over comer and as you endure the afflictions that assail you, remember that the Lord is the Master of your life and He is the one who is permitting your life to be encompassed with many infirmities. Have you any trial dear Over comer that is of a crushing nature? Is there the threat of multiple areas of testing that you do not know you can conquer? Are you compassed with scourging and depression on every side? Has your life come to a place where you know not if you are situated in stability and you wonder if you are going to fall? Has the most awful thing, the most terrible testing, the most horrendous trial that you feared the most happened unto you? Has your physical body been injured and has your body been assailed with sickness and disease? Has God seemingly turned away His face from you and you find Him hard to seek and to find and often do not know where He is? Is there such an inner turmoil and conflict in your life that anything more added to your daily burden would surely crush you and stifle any expression of life in you? Have you lost someone dear to you in death? Has your life been a grief ever since? Do you have family members, friends and neighbors who do not understand you at all and when they look upon you do they think that you are insane? Are you “strange” to those who live around you and view your life? Are you cut off and alone? Is your measure of fellowship with other believers only with one or two and no more? Have family members stopped talking to you and have walked away in a dearth of silence?
If any of these things as well as a multitude of other things have happened unto you dear Over comer, then you are enduring the Euroclydon Wind! The ship is being torn apart! Your life has been racked dear Saint of God, you who feel as far from being Holy as is possible! Instead you see FLESH in your life, that which you would not do, you do! That Holiness you desire is only a faint hope! Dear Over comer, the winds of Euroclydon blow upon your earthly bark and YOU ARE TO BE ENVIED! How envious a position you are in for the judgment of God abides upon your mortal frame! Your life is encompassed with infirmity of every sort, AND GOD IS THE DOER OF IT! God is reducing you to NOTHING. There will be NOTHING OF “YOU” LEFT WHEN HE IS DONE! And not just that dear Over comer. It is that in this “time” we are in – THE HEAT AND THE FIRE IS INCREASING EVERY DAY. The areas of testing assailing your mortal frame ARE MORE. The fire’s are daily growing HOTTER. The testing is becoming more insurmountable! You are becoming more CONFINED! So near to the breaking point was your frame yesterday, how much closer to being broken today!
And on top of that you prayed, you fasted, you sought hard after God. You allowed Him to sweep through your soul in times past and were crushed and broken already, but the crushing, the breaking is CONTINUING. Perhaps there were many around you who thought your life was a waste, who would encourage you to take comforts in natural things, to forget God, to go into the world and be one with those who reveled in the night time! You may have been tempted to think your prayers are not being heard or answered! All such are the afflictions of the righteous!
New International Version (NIV)
24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
We read in 2 Samuel 5:17, “When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed King over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him.” The moment we receive anything from the Lord worth fighting for, the Devil comes seeking to destroy us. When the Enemy confronts us at the threshold of any great work of God, we should accept it as evidence of our salvation, and claim double the blessing, victory, and power. Power is developed through resistance. The force and the amount of damage created by an exploding artillery shell appears to be greater because of the resistance at the point of impact. A power plant produces additional electricity by using the friction of rotating turbines. And one day, we too will understand that even Satan has been used as one of God’s instruments of blessing.
A hero is not fed on sweets,
Daily his own heart he eats;
Chambers of the great are jails,
And head winds right for royal sails.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tribulation is the door to triumph. The valley leads to the open highway, and tribulation’s imprint is on every great accomplishment. Crowns are cast in crucibles, and the chains of character found at the feet of God are forged in earthly flames. No one wins the greatest victory until he has walked the wine-press of woe family. With deep furrows of anguish on His brow, the “man of sorrows”(Isa. 53:3) said, “In this world you will have trouble”(John 16:33). But immediately comes the psalm of promise, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” The footprints are visible everywhere. The steps that lead to thrones are stained with spattered blood, and scars are the price for scepters. We will wrestle our crowns from the giants we conquer. It is no secret that grief has always fallen to people of greatness.
The mark of rank in nature
Is capacity for pain;
And the anguish of the singer
Makes the sweetest of the strain.
Tribulation has always marked the trial of the true reformer. It was true in the story of Paul, Luther, Savonarola, Knox, Wesley, and the rest of God’s mighty army. They came through great tribulation to their point of power. Every great book has been penned with the author’s blood. “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation”(Rev.7:14). In spite of his blindness, wasn’t Homer the unparalleled poet of the Greeks? And who wrote the timeless dream of Pilgrim’s progress? Was it a prince in royal robes seated on a couch of comfort and ease? No! John the Revelator, where was he when he penned the book of Revelation? Where am I while penning these thoughts and studies that I share with you? Family the lingering splendor of John Bunyan’s vision gilded the dingy old walls of an old English jail in Bedford, while he, a princely prisoner and a glorious genius, made a faithful transcript of the scene.
Great is the easy conqueror;
Yet the one who is wounded sore,
Breathless, all covered over with blood and sweat,
Sinks fainting, but fighting evermore—
Is greater yet.
Assailed by this affliction May & I will not complain, but allow the holy spirit to carve us into a more Christ like image. The world unforgiving though it is, will not make us forget whose we are. Our God is Awesome and has done great things for us when we didn’t deserve them. We are grateful for being called to suffer for a little while. This little rain mixed with God’s sunshine makes us appreciate the good times we believe are on the horizon. By being crushed we hope that we smell as good as the fragrance used to anoint our Savior. I am convinced that my God will do as he said to His servant. Eating, clothing, and lodging all belong to Him. The job we feel we need, it belongs to Him, May completing school, all belongs to Him. Every need we have need of is His not ours. Chained to Christ chariot are we. This victory we celebrate belongs to Him. Stay in position family and watch Him move!!!!
A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson