Tragedy is similar to the unwanted crazy family member at Christmas time. It is most often unexpected and takes the wind right out of your sails. No one wants it and everyone hates its sudden strike. Yet tragedy is something I get to walk through with people as a pastor and a friend. Now, one thing I try not to do as a pastor (especially at funerals) is preach people out of hell during a tragedy. Scaring the hell out of people isn’t a pleasure for me or for the captive audience. I would rather preach that there is a hope and peace to be had in the here and now. When we go through sufferings, we need hope not doom and gloom.
The tragedies of life I have seen have been soul crushing and the question I get is: “how do we make sense of these tragedies?” In these moments I always respond in these three ways:
- Maintain Your Perspective
It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re walking through suffering alone and there’s no one to cheer you on. The good news is that you don’t have to do life all by your lonesome. In fact, one of God’s gifts to us is other people who have walked through similar issues. Surrounding yourself with these people helps you maintain your perspective. It is a perspective that says, “you will make it!”
- Lose Weight
No, I’m not talking about body weight. I’m talking issues that weigh you down. For example – what happens when I’m in the thicket of trauma is I begin to play the “what if” or the “should have” game. This game turns into a weight of guilt for me and I am learning that I am incapable of continuing this journey of life with unnecessary weight. Unforgiveness? Guilt? Worry? Past hurt? What weight do you need drop?
- Focus on Jesus
Yep…have I mentioned that I’m a preacher? Hebrews 12:2 tells us this: “look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” I love that verse. The Greek would translate this as to “look away to Jesus.” As if he’s saying, “stop looking at your situations and look away to Jesus.” There are millions of things vying for your attention – so we have to stay laser focused on Jesus, lest we stay focused in the darkness of our despair and ultimately give up on life. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Only Jesus can give you a life that’s worth living.
Never forget that there are people out there who are potentially going through similar situations. That’s why we have the local church. And I would encourage you to not go to church, but belong to a church. Huge difference. There you will find a people walking through the trauma of life, yet are focused on Jesus.