Life Issues
Responding to Tragedy
Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
Jun 7, 2017
If God Is In Control, Why Is My Life Such a Mess?


To Mary and Martha, Jesus was too late. Their brother Lazarus had been in his grave for four days. Why hadn't Jesus come at the right time to heal him?

Read John 11:32-44. Jesus had received word that Lazarus was sick, but by the time He arrived on the scene, Lazarus was already dead. A heartbroken Mary said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (v. 32). Others who had witnessed the scene said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" (v. 37).

Although God often gives us glimpses of how He is working in our lives, we will never know exactly what He is doing.

Although Jesus ultimately called Lazarus to life, there is something we must observe from this passage about how Jesus responds to our heartache.

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible and perhaps one of the most powerful. Jesus had just arrived to meet Mary and Martha, who were grieving and weeping. How did Jesus respond to their pain? "Jesus wept." Why would Jesus weep if He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead? He wept because He is compassionate. He does not rejoice in the pain of death, sin, and disaster, but longs to deliver us from them.

In the midst of tragedy, our inclination may be to give simplistic answers or find quick fixes that offer a solution. Instead, we must grieve with those who grieve, bringing our pain before the Lord. We can declare that our hope is in Christ, the Messiah who will one day end the madness. The presence of God is the only salve for our wounds.

When terrorists conspire and Christians are martyred—God is inviting us to mourn with our neighbor, forgive our enemies, and funnel our anger into passionate, merciful prayer for those who do not yet know Him. When we lose a loved one—He is inviting us to draw near to Him in our sadness. When we experience an injustice—He is inviting us to trust that our future is in His hands.

Although God often gives us glimpses of how He is working in our lives, we will never know exactly what He is doing. We cannot control the past, present, or future, but we can choose how we will respond. In seasons of silence, doubt, and heartache, how will you respond? Will you let fear, anger, and distrust win, or will you press into the only one who can bring you peace, healing, and redemption? When the storms come—and they will—run into the open arms of Christ.

Prayer: Lord, You are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love (Psalm 145:8). When I experience disappointment or loss, I pray that my first response would be to run to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge" (Psalm 62:8).