Perhaps it's just my perception, but the world seems to be more full of tragedy over the past 90 days.
National headlines included numerous shootings, including the terrible Newtown school shootings, a shooting at a Portland, Ore. shopping mall, and what seems like countless suicides.
Closer to home, people we know have been affected by various tragedies and deaths.
At times, things seem to be spiraling out of control.
With all of this darkness around us, it is very easy to ask, "Where is GOD in all of this?"
When we are in the midst of one of life's storms, it can be very difficult to see GOD's hand at work, or to envision how this could ever turn out for good, or why GOD allows bad things to happen to good people.
On January 4, 2013, my friends Dan and Serena DeGarmo lost their infant son Azaiah.
This tragedy has hit them very hard, which is both understandable and expected for such an event.
Since this day, I have watched from afar as they have grieved their loss. I've followed their posts on Facebook from the moment they discovered something was wrong with Azaiah and were headed to the hospital through today.
Their example of faith that has withstood this fiery trial has reminded me of a most important truth: Our GOD is God of the Tragedy.
Serena writes a blog (awordywoman.com), and for the past two weeks she has posted about coping with this great tragedy. On January 13, Serena wrote:
I have been in ministry with my husband for ten years. We have struggled to motivate believers. We have labored to reach lost souls. We have agonized over the body of Christ. Then Azaiah died.
These nine days have been revolutionary. God’s Spirit is stirring. God’s Spirit is transforming. God’s Spirit is regenerating life (Titus 3:5).
How do I know? Because his is fruit all over the place. ...
Our fellowship is tighter. Our worship is unrestrained and our focus is more intent.
I have seen souls restore their hearts to true fellowship with Christ. I have witnessed men weeping as they confess the name of Jesus for the first time. I have watched surrendered spirits unite with their Savior in the waters of baptism (Gal. 3:27). After death, I have seen life.
It truly is amazing to watch GOD work good—not just a little bit of good, but awe-inspiring good—in the wake of tragedy.
He has promised to do so for His child, yet seeing the results of His promises raise feelings of awe and amazement in our hearts time and time again, just like seeing a rainbow after the storm.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Rom. 8:28 NIV)
Across the world, in the Philippines, we have friends who are evangelists there.
The country has been wrapped in turmoil and fighting between the government and communist rebels for decades, and citizens are often caught in the cross-fire.
Many citizens live in poverty, struggling to have enough rice to sustain their families on a daily basis. Basic medicines like Pepto-Bismol literally saves lives, yet these medicines are scarce and hard to afford.
Despite these circumstances—or perhaps because of these circumstances—people are searching for something greater; people are searching for Jesus.
Our friends send us regular reports of their efforts and every time there are dozens of people who are becoming disciples of Jesus, dying to sin in the waters of baptism.
Just when you think things can't get more difficult, the country was hammered by back-to-back typhoons late last year, destroying thousands of homes and wiping away entire families.
These are tragic times, yet the hand of GOD is very visible.
GOD is using these terrible events to draw people to Himself.
That's how He works.
He's the God of the tragedy.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(Jam. 1:2-4 NIV)