It strikes. It’s quick and it’s painful. Sometimes it sweeps a nation and other times it strikes an individual. But either way tragedy seems to pull us together. Whether it’s a horrific terrorist attack, a shooting, or a car accident or house fire. When tragedy strikes where do we turn? We turn to each other and we turn to God. But have we ever stopped to think how many small personal tragedies we experienced and we turned to something else besides God? Maybe we turned to a bottle. Maybe we turned inside of ourselves. Maybe we buried it in our work or social life. And then there is a big one. One that strikes us to our core and makes us question everything. But God had not given us a spirit of fear.
You see if you can point to one blow. One shot in your life that made you finally fall to your knees and cry out because you had no where else to go. Then I am betting you can think of the twenty small knocks before that. Is God cruel? Is He mean? Why did this happen? I believe He uses these tragedies, big and small, because He has greater things planned. Maybe you feel that silent knock. “Go to church”. “Pray”. “Be still”. “Share the love of Christ with that homeless man”. “Come back to me, I love you”. And maybe you ignore it. Maybe you think, after this promotion I’ll go to church. Next week I’ll find time to pray. I’m too busy to sit still Lord. I don’t have time to help the homeless. When in all that we are really saying, “I value my job, social life, and MY time more than I value Him.” And that’s a dangerous place to be. You see God is not mean or cruel. But He is jealous for us. He does love us so much. Like a parent. And sometimes as a parent we must discipline our children. And what do children do? They fall time and time again.
You see I was that person. On fire for God. And then life got busy. I used to spend more time a week at church than home. Church on Sunday. Wednesday night. Youth activities on weekends. Prayer services. Praise band practice. I was surrounded by Christ, His followers, and His love. And then I got busy. I got married. I had kids. I worked all the time. I was the one saying “I’ll go to church next week, I can’t afford to take Sundays off”. And after a few years of that. Kaboom. Tragedy. And I felt God all through my time away from Him pulling me back. Tugging and knocking at my heart. But I put everything. Literally everything before Him. And that one hard blow knocked me down.
I thought I was okay. I thought “I can get through this. I must be strong for everyone else.” But as I stood in the shower I was overcome. With grief, with anger, with shame. I fell to my face in that shower and I yelled at God. I asked him why. I asked him what good can come from this? And all that time pushing Him away. Telling him later or I don’t have time or not right now, I felt as if He was beyond my reach. Beyond my voice. Maybe He didn’t love me anymore. Maybe He didn’t care about my pain. About my loss. But as I lay in my shower guess where He was. He was with me. “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. And for the first time in years I felt his literal presence and I knew he had never left my side. I was the one who refused to look for him.
I will not allow this tragedy to be in vain. I will praise my LIVING God who gives and takes away. The one who was there even after I spit in His face and walked away. And I will never walk away again. If I only learned one thing from my sister and her husband (which trust me I learned more) it’s that God is first. And if you make Him first you won’t have to search for Him. It won’t take a shot to your heart to have you call on Him. Because you will always be calling on Him. And trust me. He is ALWAYS there.
2 Timothy 1:7-13. NKJV
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
**Written by Nicholas Kelly