Every person wants to avoid hardship. There is something inside everyone who wants to walk the smooth path filled with blessings. But sooner or later, tragedy strikes us all. In the midst of these trials, it is important to remember that there is good which can be discovered. Here are ten good things each person can find when he or she is struggling with adversity (note: if you are still “raw” from a recent tragedy, it might be too soon to read through all of these).
Good Thing #1: Drives us to PASSIONATE PRAYER. King Hezekiah became ill and was told that he was going to die. He was told that he would not recover from this mortal illness. His initial response was this:
“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord” (Isaiah 38:2).
God answered Hezekiah’s prayer and he ended up living many more years. Hezekiah looked at death in the face and he knew that the only One who had power over death was the One he needed to talk to. There is something inside a Christian that draws them to prayer when tragedy strikes. Christians who have a shallow prayer life become mighty warriors in prayer when life socks them in the stomach with a trial.
Good Thing #2: Awakens us to the SWEETNESS of SCRIPTURE. We can find comfort in reading God’s written word in the midst of the storm.
“Trouble and distress came upon me, but your commands give me delight” (Psalm 119:143).
When a Christian opens the Bible and reads it when they have just been given bad news, it is amazing how many times a particular verse speaks directly to what he or she is going through. Just the other day I was with a family who had just been given some really devastating news about someone they love dearly. That morning, the Scripture verse in their devotional applied directly to them. I do not know what I would do without the Bible when storms come into my life that Satan uses to destroy the foundations of my faith. I remain strong when I feed off of God’s promises to me. It doesn’t make it less tragic, but it does give me hope.
Good Thing #3: HUMBLES our HEARTS. Sometimes, when people don’t go through any problems for an extended period of time, they begin to believe that God is happier with them than others. Therefore, they secretly believe that they deserve to be blessed more than others. Pride then finds its way into their heart.
“In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Paul, the great missionary, the spiritual leader of the early church who saw glimpses of heaven, could have become exceedingly arrogant. But he remained humble because God allowed a “thorn” to bother him. I have a thorn in my life that keeps me humble. What is your thorn?
Reason #4: Develops in us PATIENT ENDURANCE. Are you someone who is willing to endure great trials and still remain strong? Will you be faithful to your spouse even when you have reason to throw in the towel? Will you be faithful to your company even when they don’t treat you with the kind of respect you deserve? Will you be faithful to your church after all the opportunities you might have had to leave when things didn’t always go your way?
When we go through situations that are not fair and we endure them, there is something rewarding about it. Endurance satisfies our souls because we conquered…evil.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).
Good Thing #5: Leads us to spiritual INTROSPECTION. Tragedy motivates us to look into the deep corners of our hearts. And when we shine some light into these dark areas, we almost always find something that shouldn’t be there.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word” (Psalm 119:67).
People cry out all the time to God in the midst of a trial. They say things like, “God, I will eliminate this sin from my life if you fix things!” And they mean it, for a while. But when life gets back to normal, they allow the sin to creep back into the heart. Be that person who is transformed by your tragedy. Allow this tragedy to reshape your heart to such an extent that you grow in your hatred for evil around you and especially in your heart.
Good Thing #6: Proves that you have a GENUINE FAITH. This one is really hard to explain on paper. Peter explains it well in his first letter:
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6-7).
When you courageously journey through a tragedy, other people notice. God notices. When a storm strikes a Christian’s home, people usually go one of two directions: towards God or away from God. Those who run away from God become bitter and disillusioned with the bad luck of life, while those who run closer to God develop a deeper love for the God who gives and takes away.
Good Thing #7: Awakens others to PRAY. Nothing can unify hundreds of believers in Jesus Christ faster than finding out about a tragedy. Every Christian knows what to do: pray! When I have had thousands of Christians praying for me (and my family) during certain tragedies, I have felt a spiritual blanket of God’s love and protection come over me like never before. I have felt this blanket only a few times in my life. I wish I could experience it more often.
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:13-14).
Good Thing #8: Allows us to EMPATHIZE WITH and COMFORT others. When someone is going through a tragedy, there is something comforting about talking with a wise Christian who has gone through some heartbreak of their own. This “battle worn” Christian doesn’t throw out clichés at you. They seem to know how to comfort you in a deeper way than those who have ran away from tragedy in their life.
“God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (1 Corinthians 1:4).
But let me caution you here: just because you have gone through a trial, it doesn’t make you an expert in how to help everyone through their own individual situation. Too many people offer too much advice because they have gone through a “mini-episode” in their life, and they now have all the answers to life’s problems. Don’t be that guy.
Good Thing #9: Heightens our desire for HEAVEN. When we have lost a loved one to death, there is a part of our soul that seems to die with them. If we have hope that we will see them someday in heaven, it makes us yearn for that day when we will reunite with loved ones who have gone before us.
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me” (Job 19:25-27)!
When life is difficult here on earth, our minds naturally drift to the time when all will be well. In some instances, things will never be okay here on this earth again. Maybe someone we know is dying and they only have a certain amount of time left. Life will never be the same from the moment you heard the news to the time when you say goodbye to him or her at the funeral. But heaven gives us hope that life on earth is a blink (75 years) while in eternity we will keep our eyes open forever!
Good Thing #10: We can GLORIFY God with our RESPONSE. Lazarus died. His sisters wept. Jesus even wept. This is what Jesus said about the tragedy:
“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4).
Please understand that God does not directly cause bad stuff to happen in our lives. But God can take the bad stuff and turn it into something that will be used for good. This is the perspective all of us need when we go through a trial. Be encouraged that God will use the bad stuff that you are going through for His ultimate purpose. That purpose might be realized in heaven, but if you are a Christian, you must keep that perspective. Live not just for today. Live not just for tomorrow. But live knowing that your soul will live somewhere a thousand years from now.