Tuesday, 21 June 2011

When Tragedy Strikes

Walsall Advertiser Living Faith Column, June 30th 2011

Two weeks ago I attended the funeral of my nephew Matthew who was stillborn.  Watching his father filling in the grave where his tiny coffin lay was one of the most heart breaking things I had ever witnessed.  No parent should have to bury their child. 

The Bible tells the story of Job, a good man, who respected God and refused to do evil.  But despite Job’s faith in God, it did not protect him from tragedy befalling his family.  In one terrible day Job loses everything, his possessions, his home, his life stock and worst of all his eleven children.  The question raised by the story of Job is how is he going to respond to this disaster, is he going to reject God or hold on to his faith?  This is the question many of us face when we experience a great personal loss.  

When tragedy strikes we naturally want answers to why God could allow such a thing to happen, but there are rarely any easy answers.

Following Matthew’s death I was reminded of a point in Jesus’ own ministry, where many of the people who had been following him, grew disillusioned and disappointed, and abandoned him.  When Jesus asked his own disciples if they were also going to leave him, Peter responded "Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life.” (John 6:68)

Having faith in God doesn’t mean we are protected from terrible things happening to us, nor does it mean having all the answers.  True faith means learning to live with the questions and the doubts, whilst still trusting in God’s goodness, love and mercy.  Faith is also realising that God is present with us as we journey through life, and therefore we do not have to face these tough times alone. 

Despite all Job faced, he clung on to his faith in God, just as my sister and brother in law are clinging on to their faith, because they know that nothing, not even death, can separate us and those we love from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. 

So if you are finding life difficult today, don’t give up on God, because he never gives up on us, and with Him there is always hope for the future.

If you have been personally affected by a death of a baby please visit Sands the Stillbirth and neonatal death charity.

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