September 24 I Tuesday
Song of Solomon 4-5
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles...” —2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Several years ago, I spoke for a week at a church of about 2,000 people in Capetown, South Africa. We had a great crowd there every night as I preached a series of Bible messages. Three weeks later, when I turned on the news, the headline story was of four terrorists who had gone into that church in Capetown, lobbed a grenade into the middle of the church and then opened fire,
killing 11 people and injuring 58.
The pastor of that church, Frank Retief, wrote a book Tragedy to Triumph: A Christian Response to Trials and Suffering, about this whole situation and its aftermath largely through the lens of 2 Corinthians and the kind of experiences Paul had been through. One of the things he wrote about was on the two responses from Christians when tragedy happens.
There were some Christians who had never felt closer to God. They felt His presence, became more aware of Him, were comforted by Him and found themselves praying to Him. They said it was strange for the awareness of God’s presence to be rich and real in the middle of tragedy. Meanwhile other Christians felt totally abandoned by God, that He was distant and absent. They did not know how to pray and they could not pray; even when they tried to pray, it felt like
they were behind a wall.
Retief wisely said these are two very natural responses. One does not say anything about the individual over the other. But for those to whom God seemed distant and were not able to communicate, hear or sense Him, they found two passages of Scripture that became important encouragements. The first was Romans 8:26, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Sometimes when we feel hurt, confused, pain and in a dark place where we cannot see God, we know the Spirit is interceding on our behalf to God. The second was 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” They found His grace to be in a sense of His presence and security.
Retief did not find a solution to what happened, because there was no solution to 11 funerals that had to be conducted. Instead, Retief found, as they faced the grief and consequences of what had taken place, God’s grace was His presence working in the midst of it all.
We may be presently facing a tragedy but we have triumph through these circumstances with God as our strength and hope.
Prayer: Dear Lord God, I may not understand why tragedy happens but I know I can triumph through it because of the strength and hope found in You. Thank You, Lord.