One thing is true about tragedy, it is common to all men. It comes in all forms: death, sickness, pain, despair, failure etc. We can all personally relate to any one of these and we will all agree that life, at times, can and will be difficult.
A wise king once said “time and chance” happen to us all (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Bad things do not only happen to bad people and good things are not only stored up for good people. Good and bad happen to everyone just because we are humans living in an imperfect world. The level of your righteousness does not necessarily determine whether you will have a bad or good day. Things happen in life, but it’s how we deal with them that matter the most.
Moses was one man who dealt with his share of troubles despite his obedience to God. After he led Israel out of Egypt and they neared the Red Sea, it looked as if Israel was closed in. The Egyptian army was pursuing after them on one side and the sea was on their other. From Israel’s viewpoint, God had abandoned them when they needed Him most. Fear set in. They thought they were going to die by the hand of the Egyptians in the middle of the wilderness. Where was God now? Moses had a message for them “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14). Moses reminded the people that God was with them despite what things looked like. God was faithful to His people. He delivered them through the midst of the Red Sea and swallowed up their enemies.
When we are in the middle of our tragedy, it is hard to see past our feelings. Depression, fear and loss of hope envelope our being. Our focus is not on God, but instead our desperate situation. We too begin to wonder “God, where are you?” We tend to separate God’s nearness from our despair as if He stepped away and then tragedy stepped in. We can’t see how God could allow this and conclude He has abandoned us when we needed Him most. Then we, like the Israelites, doubt God’s presence.
What kind of God would we serve if He left every time something awful happened to one of His children? God doesn’t fly the coop when things get messy. When my children hurt themselves, the first thing they do is run to mommy or daddy to find comfort. Most times it is something minor, but just being in our arms brings them so much comfort. I would never send my kids away when they needed me the most. God’s arms are much larger and His heart is filled with much more love. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you… (Isaiah 66:13).
When tragedy strikes, we are told three things, according to Exodus 14:13, to get us through 1) Do not be afraid, 2) Stand still and 3) see the salvation of the Lord. The difficulties we face are not meant for us to bear alone. The Bible simply teaches us to look to God as our salvation in every circumstance. No circumstance we face catches God by surprise nor is it too big for God.
Moses ended his statement with “and you shall hold your peace.” Having peace in the middle of a tragedy sounds like an oxymoron, but when we look to God, rather than our calamity, we will find exactly that.
We cannot always foresee tragedy happening, but we can find peace in the midst of it when we rest in the knowledge that God is actually nearer to us during those times.