Patience in the Face of Tragedy

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Patience in the Face of Tragedy

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Here in southwest Ohio, an area often called "the tri-state" since it borders southern Indiana and northern Kentucky,we had our first wave of tornadoes last Friday afternoon. Powerful tornadoes touched down just south of my home and leveled some small towns in southern Indiana. Today the residents of those areas are picking up the pieces and relief efforts are underway.

The story of a fifteen month old little girl is the most tragic of all the stories that emerge from this event. She was found ten miles from the spot where she lived with her parents in a trailer. Both parents died in the storm and this little girl suffered severe brain trauma. She survived a couple of days but died yesterday. The poor girl was carried through the air and fell to earth in a field. 

The reason I can't get this out of my mind is because I have a fifteen month old granddaughter. I can imagine the size and weight of this little girl who died. I can see the length of her hair and know that she must have been walking only a few months and probably had learned to climb stairs and pull things out of their place and run hesitantly around her home making loud noises. She was probably the delight of her family. Was she the first grandchild? Did she have a cute smile? How many words was she trying to form as everyone looked into her eyes and acted just plain silly to evoke a response from her? 

Now all that is but a memory for those who knew her.

Your heart breaks when you stop to think of the horror of such a tragedy. The questions that always come at such a time now arise. "Where was God?" "Why did God allow this to happen to this innocent little girl and all the the other who died and suffered loss?" 

I have been asked these questions many times through the years. Standing at the grave of infant children, middle aged men and those who died before their time - I have had to give an answer that somehow provides hope and satisfaction. At times no answer removes the pain of loss.

For any who come to this moment in life, these "descents into darkness", have only one purpose in the end. It is to bring us closer to the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. We cannot know the answer to "why" in every case of suffering and tragedy in this life. There is simply too much within this so-called "vale of tears". It overwhelms us when we try to consider. Many have abandoned any faith in God as a result of the evil and suffering in this world. 

The one answer I have arrived at is this. Do not abandon God in your moment of suffering. Let it draw you to Him in a way no other event could do, Cry out to Him for grace and help. James writes to us, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing". (James 1:2-4)

Patience is a key to eventually understanding why bad things happen to good people. It is a difficult virtue to build into our life, but if we can master this we stand on the threshold of greater understanding of this life and all its challenges.

God watched while this tornado bore down on a small trailer in southern Indiana and sucked a fifteen month old girl into its vortex. But He also has watched while every other unspeakable tragedy happened to every infant in history, and one day He will bring those children back to life and they will live to adulthood. The Bible teaches this comforting truth and it is sure. 

This truth does not remove the pain of the moment for those who remain and watch. But there will be a time when He will wipe away every tear and with it the lingering pain of memory. Let us pray for all at such a time the the the peace of God will comfort and encourage.