April 20th 1990, Columbine. September 11th 2001, the Twin Towers. December 14th 2012, Sandy Hook. June 12th 2016, Pulse Night Club. October 1st 2017, Las Vegas. These are the dates of only a few of the worst tragedies in recent American history. When something terrible happens we as a people mourn deeply. These moments stick in our minds as clearly as when we first heard about them.
On October 1st, 2017 I woke up to a text message “This Vegas stuff is so crazy.” I didn’t know yet what that meant but it wasn’t long till I heard the news. 58. 58 people who lost their lives. 58 families who would never see their loved ones again. 489 injuries. 489 people whose lives would be forever changed because of the evil and sin in the world.
At times the brokenness of this world seems absolutely crushing. People lose their lives for no reason, families lose their homes in natural disasters, fires destroy entire cities, and the nation seems to be divided on almost every important issue.
In the midst of this darkness I can’t help but ask, where does God go during tragedy? Why is this world filled with so much heartache and pain? He knows our hearts, our questions, and His word promises us several things that we are to cling to during devastating events.
He Promises Tragedy Will Happen
John 16:13 promises that tribulation is coming. Matthew 16:24 shows Jesus telling His followers to pick up their cross and follow Him. To understand this, it is important to understand that a cross was not a beautiful symbol of hope and restoration like it is today. The cross Jesus carried is thought to have been roughly 165 pounds and twelve to thirteen feet high. It is also estimated that He carried the cross for around 2,000 feet. When Jesus commands us to pick up our cross, He is not asking us for a simple symbolic task. He is telling us that following Him will be challenging and come with difficulties.
He Promises He Cares
Psalm 34:18 explains that the Lord cares deeply for those who are suffering. Not only does God promise us He cares deeply about our pain, He asks us to lay it as His feet in Matthew 11:28-30 so that we may experience true rest and peace in Him. He promises in 1 Peter 5:7 that we can even cast our burdens onto Him because of His love for us, and he promises this also in Psalm 55:22. He is promising us that He will not leave us suffering without Him and His strength to pull us through. He promises us that His strength will pull us through.
He Promises it’s Temporary
In 2 Corinthians 4:18 He reminds us that the things that we see, the things of this Earth are only temporary, while the things not seen, or the things of Heaven will be eternal. While there is the promise that there will be struggles in this life, He promises again that there is more to come. He is promising that in Heaven, there will no longer be the suffering we see today.
He Promises Himself
The book of Isaiah from chapter 40 and on is God simply repeating that He is with us and loves us over and over. He tells us not to fear because He is with us. He tells us not to fear because He will help us. He tells us when we go through hardships He will be with us. He tells us His love for us is unfailing and will not be removed. In Deuteronomy 31:8 He tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. The God of the universe promises to be with us at every turn.
There is so much sin and heartache in this world, but we will never be abandoned by our Father. Whatever tragedy befalls us, whatever unforgivable sin we think we have committed, we are never without His love. His word is never ending, and therefore His promises hold true forever.