Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Tragedy’

Giving Thanks

2 Samuel 22:50 (NKJV)
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

Psalm 18:49 (NKJV)
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

Living in central Kansas, I am accustomed to seeing the hand of the Lord in things of nature. Spectacular sunrises and sunsets begin and end our days. The single petal of a rose exhibits wondrous veining and subtlety as well as exuding exotic fragrance. Myriad shades of green, gold, amber and russet clothe the trees of autumn.

Within 24 hours this week we have had blizzards, tornadoes and earthquakes.  Things are never dull.

Our headlines scream of terror and tragedy perpetrated by an enemy who wishes to subjugate the entire world to a religious extremism.

And yet, we are enjoined:

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – First Thessalonians 5:16 -18 (NKJV)

Rejoice? When we have an enemy who can strike, serpent-like, from any place at any time. Yes! We rejoice that nothing surprises our God. He is before us, behind us, and around us. This world is not all there is.

Pray? Pray constantly. Brother Lawrence practiced the presence of God, communing with Him constantly no matter what chore occupied his hands. If we are aware of the presence of God with us at all times, there is no terror. God is in control, and we can trust Him with our lives and the lives of those we love.

Give thanks? Yes! We are thankful that nothing surprises our God. He knew our last breath before we took the first one. He is with us, around us, within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is our security, our source, our present and our future. We have much for which to be thankful.

Father, God,

Help us to take our eyes off the temporal and put them on the eternal. Grant us the grace to see through seeming tragedy to eternal joy. Fill our hearts and mouths with praise and thanksgiving for You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

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God’s Will

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—
as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.

1 Peter 2:15-16 (NKJV)

We hear a lot of talk about “if it’s God’s will.” And a lot of questions about knowing the will of God. This is one place where His will is spelled out clearly. There are others, and we will examine them in the coming weeks.

By doing good, we are to silence the ignorance of the foolish.  Our actions, not our words, are the ammunition we must use in the war on ignorance. People must see something different in us from what they see in the rest of the world.

Those who don’t know Christ are watching. They see how we treat the merchants we frequent, how we relate to strangers as well as friends, how we conduct our daily business, how we react to adversity, how we bear up under tragedy, how we accept praise, how we keep on keeping on even when no one notices or commends us.

When our behavior is above reproach, we reflect the righteousness of God for all to see. When our actions mirror God’s love for his prodigal world, others cannot help seeing a glimpse of God’s love. When we do right, even when we have been wronged, they see a reflection of God’s principles.

We are not to use our freedom in the Lord to cover up sinful choices. Power-hunger, licentiousness, greed, malice are  thoughts that attempt to invade our minds from time to time. We are to give them no place, no foothold in our thinking. Unforgiveness, wrath, anger, impatience are all attributes we relegate to the ash can.

All our thoughts and actions must stem from obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Listening to Him, we can walk closely in the will of God.

Father, God,

Help us to hear Your voice through the din of the world. Grant us the grace to reflect only you in our daily dealings with others.  Make us quick to see and to respond to the needs of our neighbors, that they may see only a reflection of You in all we say or do.

In Jesus’ most precious name,

Amen.

Yes, He Notices — and Cares

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Luke 12:5,6  (KJV)

This has been a hard year for one class in our small high school. They have lost two classmates, one to a vehicle accident, the other to a fire. A third classmate’s father died in a plane crash. All this happened within the space of two months.

When tragedies seem to come in bunches like this, it is very common to ask where God was in all this. Why did He let it happen?  Doesn’t he care?

We are not always privy to the thoughts of God. He tells us there are things we cannot fathom. So we do not know how and why these tragedies happen. Sometimes, it is the carelessness of a moment’s prank. Sometimes it’s a flaw in the wiring of an old house. Sometimes the enemy has something to do with it.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.  Job 1:11  (KJV)

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Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.  Job 1:6-12 (KJV)

We do not know all there is to know about life and death. We can only know that whatever happens, God is not surprised. He is here every moment. He will be with us every moment. He has prepared for the things we cannot see in advance.

When  my eldest daughter was about twelve, I let her and the six-year-old go to the grocery store about four blocks from our home. They had to cross a highway and would be out of sight for half an hour or so with the walk and the errand. My husband’s spinster aunt was aghast. Didn’t I care about the girls? There was so much that could happen. Wasn’t I afraid for them.

My response to her was that they were God’s daughters, lent to me for a season. That I could trust Him with them because I knew He loved them at least as much as I did.  And perhaps a smidgen more because of His larger capacity for love.  She just shook her head. And the girls ran the errand without incident.

It is not easy to walk through the loss of a child – no matter the age of that child. But we can take comfort knowing that God is always with our children and is so intimately entwined with their welfare that he numbers the hairs on their heads.

Father, God,

We do not know why and how some of these tragedies happen. But we know that You are always with Your children, every moment, no matter the physical circumstance. We thank You for Your love – for them and for us. Help us to model for the world the proper response for a Christian to have in times of crisis.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Where is God?

Psalm 139:15.16   My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.     Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Today, my heart is full of grief for a young family because I know the pain of losing toddlers. This young  family lost a three-year-old in a tragic accident. The adults are numb with grief and guilt. There are so many “if only’s” and “why didn’t I’s…” bearing down on their minds and souls. A five-year-old witnessed the death of the toddler. Can you imagine the trauma?

And where is God in all this?  He is in the midst of it. He knew this child before the child was conceived. He knit the members together in secret in the mother’s womb. And he knew the moment of this child’s last breath before the child took the first one.  He is right beside the grieving parents, if they are able to reach out for him.  He is beside the five-year-old who saw everything, ready to comfort and to hold this surviving child close.

We may never know why this happened. But we know that God is in the middle of it, redeeming what seems to be the ultimate tragedy to create something good. For whom or when, we don’t know yet. But there is a tapestry to our lives. Only God sees the pattern. We see only the tangled under threads.

Let us pray for the family in this tragedy.

Father, God, We ask that you be with this grieving family – and all other families in grief this day.  Help them to feel your comforting presence in this difficult time. Grant that those of us around them be sensitive to their needs, supporting them in prayer, and being any helping hand needed. In Jesus’ most precious name. Amen.

The Key To Surviving Suffering

Focus verses: Job 19:23-27

After a tragedy in our own family, the comments I heard most from the people I know and the people I work with were: “You are so strong” and “I don’t see how you do it.”

In fact, I’m not strong. I simply know where to lean and that makes me look strong. When one has a relationship with God and knows that the wrongdoing is not of his own making, he can endure much.

Will he like it? Of course not. Will it be easy? No. Can it be done? Yes, it can. Many have already done it. And in Job, we have a prime example.

The key is found in verse 25. “I know that my Redeemer lives…” It is one of the highlights Handel’s “Messiah” oratorio.

This knowledge is a foundational rock for our faith. When God is ultimately the judge and the king, all wickedness will be recompensed appropriately as will all righteousness. Knowing that the ultimate judgment will be handled by the righteous God – the God who created me and loves me and wants only the best for me – lets me endure anything life can throw my way.

That’s how Job got through this trial by Satan. It’s how anyone can endure anything.

Father, God,

Help us to plant our feet firmly on this foundation stone of faith. Reassure us that You are the ultimate judge and will redeem the faithful from any suffering. Grant us the grace to draw closer to You so that we may withstand any of the darts of the evil one.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.