This past week stands as a grim reminder of tragedy, with events being remembered that have not only shaped the course of our nation but certainly the lives of individuals. Here is a short list to help our memories:
– 1865 President Abrahams Lincoln assassinated
– 1889 Hitler born
– 1912 Titanic sinks
– 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion
– 1983 United States Embassy bombing in Beirut
– 1994 Black Hawk down
– 1995 Oklahoma City bombing
– 1999 Columbine massacre
– 2007 Virginia Tech massacre
– 2013 Boston Marathon bombing
These events, and many others, had a profound impact collectively and individually. Sometimes it was through the images we saw and the stories we heard; other times it became personal. I had a good friend deployed to Somalia in 1994; a daughter living in the Oklahoma City community in 1995; a son who was a freshman at Virginia Tech in 2007; and family and friends on the Boston race course in 2013. These were very long days waiting to hear about their condition.
So, we remember these events and many others throughout the year, but more importantly we remember the individuals who lost their lives and those impacted physically, emotionally, and relationally. One commonality these events share is they brought diverse people together—tragedy, tragically, often seems like only time that happens. Unfortunately, that togetherness fades and disappears and as a society we are back to our “normal” and our comradery is replaced with divisiveness.
This divisiveness leads to a question I have often been asked and myself have asked. “Why does God allow all this tragedy and suffering to occur?” My simple, but true answer, is “I do not know.” I reconcile it in my mind in realizing that the door of “free will” swings both ways. However, I do not think on the same level of God—I do not have His insight to what this life is all about. 1 Corinthians 13:12 warns us of presuming to understand the ways of God while in this life, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything in perfect clarity.” Jesus did not sugarcoat the inevitability of us going through trials and suffering; John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.”
So, what do we do with these tragedies? Might I remind us after these type events emerge stories of one person saving another, one person showing love and compassion to another, one person sharing their faith with another, one person giving their life for another. While it is hard for us to remember the good that comes out of the evil, there are always examples that we should carry as we return to “normal.”
God took the very worst thing in the history of the universe, deicide–the death of Jesus on the cross—and turned it into the very best thing in the history of universe. He opened Heaven to all who follow Him. If God can take the very worst circumstance imaginable and turn it into the very best situation possible, can He not take the tragedies in our lives and create something good from them?