Apr 26, 2010

When Tragedy Strikes

I'm sitting here completely emotionally raw. Sometimes I forget how broken this world is. I get wrapped up in T-ball, birthday parties, coffee with friends or dates with the hubby. I dress up and act like a child with my Young Life girls. I'm filled with the carefree, beautiful moments of life.

And I forget.

I forget there's an enemy after us all. I forget our bodies are frail and life really does end. I forget sometimes we are called to suffer.

Lately I have been surrounded by friends in turmoil. To respect their personal fights I won't go into detail, but I have been left reeling by all the tragedy. My whole being shouts at no one in particular, "WHAT IS GOING ON?" I'm flattened by how quickly life can rip the rug right out from underneath you. How rapidly one event can shake your very foundation and leave you feeling like you have nowhere to land.

In the time it takes to mutter the sentence, "She's been in an accident", life can turn from

Teetering. Threatening. Crushing.

What is our response to be when hell breaks loose in our lives or when tragedy rolls in like a September hurricane? I know my natural reaction is to stand in a stupor wondering what the heck just happened. My mind fills up with why's and what if's. In short, I spiral. Down. If I don't watch out, way down.

Thankfully, today God jerked me out of that descent with Peter's words:

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith . . . " 1 Pet. 5:8-9a

He reminded me that in our darkest nights, whether they come from God, Satan or are just natural consequences of living in a broken world, Satan is waiting like a lion ready to pounce on a defenseless gazelle. To consume us while we're weakened by sadness or confusion. His goal is, at best, to get us distracted from God and, at worst, to get us to turn away from Him completely. But God's script reads much differently:

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Pet. 5:10

We must be self-controlled and alert. Aware of the enemy's tactics, resisting him and standing firm in our faith. The result? Victory.

Alert: Be expecting an attack. Satan ain't fair; watch for him. He's always looking to kick us while we're down.

Self-controlled: How do we control ourselves? By handing control over to God every minute of every day, especially when we're in a suffering season. "God, I can't do this. I'm weak and can't do what I'm supposed to do. You do it; control my every thought and action."

Resist the enemy: Stop running. Turn around, look him in the face, and spit scripture in it. If you do it long enough and often enough, he will flee (James 4:7). A technique I learned from Beth Moore that has helped me memorize some fightin' verses is what I like to call a Scripture Spiral. No worries - this is a good kind of spiral. I buy an index card spiral and on each card I jot down a verse that is a truth that combats a lie the enemy is trying to feed me. For example, when I was battling panic attacks one of my verses was 2 Tim. 1:7: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind." I had a spiral filled with similar verses and when I felt a lie trying to overtake me, I would pull that thing out and start praying out loud. For the Timothy verse my prayer might have sounded something like, "God, I know this fear is not from you because you have not given me a spirit of fear. You have given me a sound mind! You have given me power! Now help me walk in it!" Sometimes the battle was short; sometimes it lasted all day. But I kept fighting. We must do the same to chase off the devil.

Stand firm in the faith: Fight knowing that you are in a winning battle. You can fight with confidence because you know the truth - at the end of your suffering you will be restored, stronger, more firm and steadfast. Like a vibrant rainbow after a treacherous storm, the Christ-light you will shine will be glaring against your previous darkness. You will be more like Jesus and will glorify Him more powerfully.

I wish we didn't have to suffer. I look at my friends and my heart breaks for them. I wish I could hit rewind on their lives and save them from it all. But I can't.

I find solace knowing there is purpose in the suffering. I know He is going to bring good out of this. He's going to fulfill His promise noted in Romans 8:28 to work ALL things together for the good of these girls. He hasn't left them or abandoned them; in fact, He is closer than ever. I am praying that they feel His presence and love, surrender to His control, and fight valiantly alongside Him. I know I'm going to battle every day for them.

Father, oh, my heart is so heavy for my friends, but I trust you. I know you are Love. Comfort these girls in their pain and protect them from the enemy. Give them the strength to fight when the time comes and remind them of your love, your protection, and their coming restoration. Oh, surround them with your peace. And when it's our turn in the dark, please do the same for us. In Jesus' name, amen.

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Andrea said...

Needed this today. Stand firm in the faith...press on...when I can't do anything else just stand.

Lou said...

Great stuff BEAUTIFUL!