First let me start by stating some common beliefs that I have as a follower of Jesus Christ. One, I believe that no matter how bad the situation we find ourselves in as Christians we are never alone. Christ promised his disciples that He would not leave them comfortless, and this is a promise also given to the Church today by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Two, I also believe that God never waste a hurt. He uses our difficulties to mold us into the followers He has called us to be as His servants of the Gospel, (read Romans 5:1 – 5). And three, I believe God often uses the tragedy and heart ache in our lives to bring glory to Himself.
Some may believe that for God to glorify Himself in tragedy is somehow morbid or even wicked, but let me remind you that God is righteous and sovereign in all his ways. As the Scriptures teach us His thoughts are not our thoughts, and our ways are not His ways. Some things are just beyond our comprehension.
Let me also remind you what God has meant for good Satan has made every attempt to pervert, and mankind is often a willing participant in the acts of evil. This is not to say that Satan is to blame for every act of evil in this world, because we know from the Word of God the heart of man is wicked and we need to take responsibility for our own actions. Yet, God is able to take the most horrific events in history and bring good from them ultimately for His glory.
Here are five points that followers of Christ need to keep in mind when dealing with tragedy.
1. As Christians our primary duty in life is to bring glory to God, in other words we are to magnify Christ in all we do and say even in the midst of trials and tragedy.
I know many Christians hold to an idea that our main duty is to evangelize the world, but this is only one part of our Christian obligation. Yes evangelism is a major component of our Christian faith, but the ultimate goal of evangelism is to bring glory to God.
2. It is not by accident that Christ is often magnified in difficult circumstances.
Note the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:12 – 14 concerning his attitude in regards to his own troubles.
Philippians 1:12-14 (ESV) I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Some people become bitter when faced with hardships and difficulties in life, but Paul saw his current circumstances as an opportunity to magnify the name of Christ. Even in his imprisonment he began to reach out to the Roman soldiers who were guarding him. He also sought to encourage other Christians living in Rome who were once afraid of being persecuted, but now they have become bold in their witness of Christ to others.
Believe it or not our lives are often enriched and strengthened by the heart ache we’ve personally experienced. One of the most inspirational stories I’ve ever read deals with the life experiences of a father and son by the name of Dick and Rick Hoyt. I would encourage you to Google Dick and Rick Hoyt, and read the story of their family and how they’ve made the most out of some very difficult circumstances.
3. God sometimes uses the sorriest excuse for a Christian to magnify Christ Jesus.
Again read the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:15 – 18 as he discusses the religious politics in the Church of his day. Clearly there were individuals who sought to bring more hardship upon him during his imprisonment in Rome, but once again his focus was on the magnification of Jesus Christ. Regardless of their motives the apostle Paul was rejoicing because the gospel was being proclaimed and lives were eternally changed.
4. Our goal should be as Paul’s in that Christ is magnified in every aspect of our life including our death.
Philippians 1:19-20 (ESV) for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
Paul was sure that he would be delivered from his imprisonment, but what he wasn’t sure of was the means of that delivery. Would Caesar release him or put him to death, either way Paul saw it as a way to glorify Christ.
5. The greatest tragedy in the history all of humanity was the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. He was sinless, yet He was despised, spit upon, ridiculed, and beaten beyond recognition on our behalf. He chose the cross of humiliation that you and I deserved in order to provide us with eternal life.
Keep this in mind, that without his sacrificial death you and I would have no hope of eternal life with God. So can good ever come from tragedy? Absolutely! It did 2000 years ago, and God was glorified in His Son who died for a wretch like you and me.
Peace be with you!
“Immeasurable Joy” sermon link