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Marking a Tragedy

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Tragedy:

an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.

“a tragedy that killed 95 people”   [1]

Do you know someone who has suffered a tragedy? Most of us do.

Perhaps it is you that has suffered a tragedy? I know I have. Several of them actually.

How does one recover from a tragedy? Does one ever really recover from a tragedy?

Are there people who never recover from a tragedy? I believe there are.

I know someone like this. This person keeps a “death calendar”. Every year when it’s time to buy a new calendar, this person will go through it marking the dates when the people they loved died. This is a “death calendar”.

Certain dates are marked with personal notes such as “this is the day my world ended”. This day is marked for mourning and little else. This is a day for closing the curtains and sitting in the dark, alone with the distant memories of the day when life stopped.

This is what I refer to as Marking a Tragedy. An event so traumatic that it causes us to put our life on hold. We don’t move past it because we either cannot or will not.

All life now centers around the tragedy. Indeed, it has become larger than life itself.

In a lifetime of dealing with my own personal tragedies and in observing the tragedies of others,I have come to the conclusion that there is a very fine line between those who suffer tragedy and never recover, and those who suffer tragedy and go on to lead productive lives.

So I wonder, what makes the difference? Why doesn’t everyone recover from their personal tragedy and go on to lead a fulfilling and productive life?

The answer, at least in part, I believe is found in the word purpose. I like the word purpose because it speaks of something, a force perhaps, beyond our own limitations.

When we realize our purpose for being, it propels us forward in life and gives us the necessary strength and courage to overcome life’s challenges. And yes, that includes tragedy.

In my own life, I can say with the utmost confidence that a sense of purpose has kept me grounded and on track(for the most part), enabling me to move beyond situations that otherwise would have likely destroyed me.

As a young man of 23 I accepted the call into ministry, a decision that completely altered my life. For the first time, I had discovered purpose and that discovery was instrumental in seeing me through some very hard times.

For example, I quickly learned that accepting this calling was not met by those nearest to me with the same joy and excitement as I felt. Far from it actually. Because of their “lack of enthusiasm” towards what I was sure God was calling me to do, it caused me to question everything about what I believed. So much so, that I wanted to throw in the towel at least once or twice a month.

Yet for all of that, and there was a lot of “that”, I could never shake the sense of purpose that I felt when doing the work of the ministry. In ways that I could not understand, it seemed that every time I was ready to quit that sense of purpose would become even stronger.

As the weeks and months turned into years and now into decades, several events have occurred in my life that meet the definition of tragedy. At least a couple of those events should have destroyed my life, and even now they continue to try to hinder me.

As someone who has spent a great deal of time studying the scriptures, I have found them to be the antidote for life’s challenges. I have lost count of how many times God’s word has pulled me back from the brink.

Like the time I was sitting in my living room, Bible in my hands, crying out to the Lord that I couldn’t take it any longer. Having been blindsided by what was soon to turn into yet another tragedy, I had reached the end of my ability to hold on.

It was then that I felt the urge to turn in my Bible to the book of Job. Now, those of you who know Job’s story also know that this isn’t the most likely place to turn for encouragement when you are at the end of your rope.

Yet when I opened the book of Job to the 38th chapter, I saw it. In verse 1 it says “The the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said”,

Did you see the “hidden message” that I so desperately need to hear from the Lord that day?

While all along I had been asking, pleading with the Lord to take away my pain and hurt, the Lord used this verse to let me know that He could speak to me in the midst of my storm. He didn’t need to wait until the storm had passed, He could speak out of my storm!

As the realization of this truth became more clear to me, I literally jumped up out of my chair shouting “YES”! I knew then that everything was going to be alright. No, the storm didn’t dissipate immediately, in fact the worst was yet to come. That didn’t matter however, because I was assured that God had a purpose for me and therefore would see me through this tragedy.

My prayer for you today is that you will understand that you have purpose. You are needed, and you are most certainly loved. Life may have knocked you down to the point where you don’t want to get back up. Get back up anyway.

Seasons come and seasons go. Seasons of joy, excitement, and hope, along with seasons of tragedy, despair, and discouragement. Seasons are, however, just that. A season.

I leave you with the 2nd half of Psalm 30:5…

”Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.

Be blessed this day, in Jesus name!

Ron

[1] Bing search

The very real dangers of entanglement

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Are you one of those people who frequently says, “where did the time go”?

This happens to a lot of us, especially when we get too busy. Like when you’re burning the candle at both ends busy.

“Busy” probably describes most people but being ‘too busy’ is what I want to focus on with this post. In particular, I want to talk about how easy it is even on our best days for God to occasionally get left out, while on those ‘too busy’ days He likely isn’t even thought of at all.

I’m one of those who believe that the Lord is at work in our lives each day. Because of this, I recognize that His presence is also a daily occurrence in my life.

My point being that I never have to wonder if God is with me. I know that He is.

Now, does that mean I don’t have times when I question “Lord, where are you”? Of course not! Like all of you, I am sometimes slow to adjust to God’s timing, thinking that He should react immediately to my petitions.

We all know that the Lord just doesn’t work like that.

Well, at least He doesn’t in my life.

None of this however changes the fact that God is always with us. He is the faithful one in our relationship, and fortunately for all of us he is never ‘too busy’ for us, nor does he forget about us. I don’t know how He does it, but somehow, He always makes time for us.

We, on the other hand, can get so busy with this thing we call ‘life’ that God gets shoved aside. Just stop for a moment and think of all the things you’ve done today and add those to tomorrow’s ‘to do list’, and you get a picture of how busy your life really is.

Seriously, some of us could apply for the position of a circus juggler because we are constantly having to juggle our time and schedules.

What’s amazing about this is that we don’t even realize it. In fact, it’s our everyday, normal life isn’t it? It’s like a saying we used to use at work that “the abnormal has become normal”.

Herein is the danger of becoming too busy with life. We don’t realize how much of ourselves we are constantly pouring into other things, people, or causes.

All at the expense of allowing God to pour into us, which He cannot do because we are too busy with everything else but Him!

The apostle Paul recognized the danger of allowing ourselves to become entangled in a multitude of things, things that eventually entrap us much like a bird in a snare. In his 2nd letter to Timothy, Paul wrote the following:

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”  2 Tim. 2:4

As in all of his writings, Paul sees the relationship we have with Christ as one where we are in a battle. We have been enlisted as soldiers in God’s army, with a duty to carry out His orders.

Paul understands that if we are to please the One who is giving us our marching orders, we cannot become entangled with the affairs of this life. To do so would cause our attention to be diverted away from the task He has assigned to us.

Many of you can no doubt relate to being pulled a hundred different directions at one time, and this is what Paul is warning us against. Simply put, if we have become ‘too busy’ to be able to respond to our Leader, we have ceased to be a soldier that is pleasing to Him.

All of us have causes and projects that we support or have any number of family obligations that must be attended to. Paul is not telling us to abandon those things, but rather to make sure they do not become a snare to us.

The key here is to strike a balance between life’s obligations and giving time and attention to the One who makes our lives possible.

By doing this, we don’t have to worry about becoming ensnared by the everyday affairs of this life. We can be productive, positive members of society and also good soldiers of the One who has called us.

Have a blessed day,

Ron