"The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever--forsake not the work of Your own hands." Psalm 138:8
What do we do when tragedy strikes us from out of nowhere? Often the tragedy follows some incredible event, a mountain-top experience with God. The shock we feel from the sudden change of our circumstances can leave us utterly confused and desperately sad.
I tell the story of my grandfather, Laban, in my book, Congo Vignettes. He and my grandmother had presented the gospel to the Congolese people who were practicing cannibalism and child sacrifice in an effort to make atonement for their sins. When the Congolese understood that God the Father had given His own Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for their wrongdoings, they accepted God's gift of salvation with eagerness. In fact, in a period of five years, 10,000 Congolese received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
I cannot imagine the exhilaration of the mountain top experienced by my grandparents in those five years. And then, at the very height of their ministry together, my grandfather suffered an eight-foot fall that cost him his life. My grandmother had only a fourth-grade education and two young boys that needed to be cared for. The mountain top had, without warning, changed into a slippery slope of unimaginable grief.
There are times when the drop-off is so sharp that our hearts feel as though they have left our bodies. Life is never kind enough to inform us when the mountain is about to become the valley of the shadow of death. The only thing we can do in the valley is what King David found to sustain him:
"I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me." Psalm 57:2
Did the Lord turn His eye away and miss my grandfather's wrong step on the roof rafter that led to his fall? Does God ever leave His throne and somehow become unaware of what is happening to one of His own? Never. Not ever. For the one who has trusted his or her life to Jesus Christ, there is never anything random or haphazard that ever happens to us. Although our lives can suddenly seem completely out of control, this is the truth:
"The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]." Psalm 37:23 (AMP)
Tragedy is not having bad things happen to me. Tragedy is not knowing that God busies Himself with my every step, both those that are good and those that are bad. Tragedy is feeling hopeless in the face of death. Tragedy is living this life never really understanding God will never forsake the work of His hands in my life. Triumph is knowing that He will work all things together for my good because He has a purpose and plan for all that concerns me.
Thank you, Jesus, that there is a purpose behind my pain. Keep my soul from despairing and feeling abandoned. Help me to cry out to You knowing that You will one day make sense out of my valleys. You are working out Your perfect purpose even in them, though I may not be able to see that purpose yet. I choose to trust You.