Tragedy can strike at any time and unfortunately it is a part of living. We all hope it won’t happen to us and those around us whom we love. There are things we can do to minimize it, but there is nothing we can do to eliminate it.
I wish I had the answer for preventing tragedy but neither I nor anybody else does. I think many imagine if they live a good life, eat properly and exercise, and believe in God that tragedy will not happen to them. God will protect them and spare them tragedy. Unfortunately, that is not true. One of the greatest men who ever lived was the apostle Paul. His whole life after he was blinded on the road to Damascus was full of tragedy. As many of you know, his life ended in a prison in Rome, where he was beheaded.
I know that even though there is tragedy there is hope. Hope for today and hope for tomorrow.
I will share three stories about how tragedy resulted in hope. Many other such stories can be told and I am sure you have many that you could share also.
The first is a story I heard Dr. Dobson from Focus on the Family tell. Several years ago Focus on the Family moved its headquarters from California to Colorado Springs. They had a dedication ceremony and some very important people were invited, including several prominent ministers. After the ceremony, two ministers were killed in a private plane on their way home. All were shocked. Many people asked why this happened to these ministers who had given their lives to Jesus. Why after the dedication of the new Focus on the Family headquarters? It just did not seem right. Why did God not protect these faithful servants of His?
Sometime later on a beautiful day a small plane was seen in the sky. Somebody took a picture. You may not believe this, but the plane in the picture was identical to the small plane that had carried the ministers, including the plane’s numbers.
God heard all those questions as to why. He did not answer the whys, but what He did was tell all that He does care and His plan is perfect. The picture of the plane in the sky gave hope to all who were confused and asking why this tragedy happened.
The next story is about me. Prior to July 29, 2001, I had everything one might want—a successful OB/GYN practice, a well-respected OB/GYN residency program, a special family and so much more. I was a Christian. I dedicated my office building to Jesus and even had a beautiful chapel in its basement for my employees, patients and me to pray in.
But on July 29, 2001, my whole life was turned upside down. I was involved in a serious go-kart-racing accident that almost killed me. It left me paralyzed from the waist down. Again the same questions could be asked: Why me? What did I do to deserve this? My life was dedicated to God. Why did He not protect me? Again nobody knows the answers, but just like the plane in the sky God did answer by giving me hope. While I lay unconscious on a respirator fighting for my life, He promised me He would be with me. He told me He would carry me when I could not walk and pick me up when I fell. He also told me He was going to use my life to glorify Him.
Another tragedy that ended in hope.
Because it is Easter, the next story is about Jesus and His tragedy. You may all know the story. Jesus walked this earth to tell all about God. Jesus was a pure man. He performed countless miracles to show all that His message is real. If you believe in Him you will have hope and eternal life. He was crucified on a cross—one of the most horrible deaths known to man. Just like with the small plane, God gave us hope: Christ arose on the third day after his death.
This story is so important. Those who were skeptical could once again see Jesus. The cross was empty. Jesus was no longer there. He is in Heaven waiting for all who believe. He promised that all who believe will never die; life will be eternal.
But what about your tragedies? How can these stories help you? First of all, these stories are stories of real tragedy and how hope prevailed. Your tragedies can end in the same way as long as you believe. No matter what your tragedy or situation in life is, God will always be with you. He will give you all the grace you need to make it to tomorrow. What a special gift to know that no matter what happens He will be walking by your side and picking you up when you fall. Because of Him and His grace there is always hope. Isn’t that what the apostle Paul was trying to tell us?
I want to leave you with this final quote from Jesus:
“Don’t be afraid. Trust in God.”