Where is God When Tragedy Strikes?
On Sunday, January 26, 2020, our day was interrupted with the tragic news of the untimely and sudden death of NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant as 41 years of age. As if it couldn’t get any worse we learned that his 13-year old daughter, Gianna or Gigi, and 7 others died in the fatal helicopter crash on their way to Gigi’s basketball game with several teammates.
How do we process this? How do we reconcile an all-loving Sovereign God allowing something like this to happen and still trust in Him as “all Good?”
Perspective – Earthly or Eternal?
While we must deal with the tragedy and our thoughts in the here and now, God’s Word gives us a great perspective on these things.
Allow me to share some thoughts and Scripture that come to my mind every time this kind of tragedy is brought front and center in our minds and lives. I’ve learned to lean on these Truths in the most difficult of situations and I hope you’ll be able to do the same…
- Instead of judging and trying to determine the eternal destiny of those who passed, let’s leave that in the hands of the Only One who knows. We can trust them to His perfect mercy, justice and love! Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the lord is the death of his saints.”
- Let’s be sure to always live in the light of Eternity…it’s the only thing that really matters! In all things we look to Him and His Kingdom as Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
- Trust in God’s forgiveness – Receive what we hear and see regarding Kobe’s life in particular from the perspective of God’s Word…where he has fallen, as we all have, let’s forgive and move on and trust He took that to The Lord – Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Paul encourages us to, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
- The “Mamba Mentality” of “give it your all” and always find a way, for which Kobe will always be remembered is noble as long as we don’t make an idol of it in the wrong way and areas of our life. Apply the great dedication, drive and discipline to your walk with The Lord and let that lead and influence every other area of your life. Where he was getting it right with his marriage, family and parenting, let’s be encouraged to be the best person, spouse and parent we can be according to God’s Word and for His Kingdom and Glory! Colossians 3 we read… “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (v. 17)…“Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (v. 24)
I had the privilege of playing college ball and some professional basketball. I was driven, dedicated and disciplined in every way much like Kobe. However, I was not as gifted. I had to learn to surrender to The Lord’s will and allow Him to work through these things rather than continue to drive myself for what I wanted. When I surrendered fully to Him, He began to shape and mold my dedication, drive and discipline for His Kingdom and that made all the difference.
Each of you can do that if you are willing to make Christ first in your life, marriage, family and work or ministry!
One final thought regarding the young teenage girls whose lives were ended all to soon and in answer to the question that so many ask at this time, “Why would a loving God take these young lives or any of these lives?” My simple answer when that has happened to those that I’ve been close to is, “I don’t know.” But I’ve also learned to say this as well, “But I can also still completely trust You. I can’t see the reason but Your love and faithfulness in everything else that I have seen lead me to trust in You.”
The alternative of not trusting in Him leaves me in a much worse place trusting in this world or myself and my mixed up emotions for the answers and that’s never satisfied me in any way. So I’ll keep looking to Him and I would encourage you to do the same, even when we don’t understand.” Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
I hope this helps you bring some focus and perspective to this tragedy, especially regarding the young lives that were snuffed out what seems to us to be far too quickly. We can entrust them to His loving, gracious, merciful judgment. The Cross is proof that He loves us that much!
For those who remain we continue to pray that they look to and know Him! Let’s be sure, as Paul reminded us, that we’re focused on Eternity and how we’re living in the here and now for that purpose and help others do the same!
Remember this as we focus on a perspective in line with God’s Truth…James, the half-brother of Jesus said this, Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-15
And Peter put it this way…“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:7-11
As I was finishing up writing this article, one of my favorite songs came on my computer. It is so powerful and it deals directly with this issue and what we’re discussing in this article, video and podcast. Take a few minutes to listen to Casting Crowns song, Even If, and let is point you to The Only One Who can strengthen and support you in these situations.
Here’s God’s assuring and reassuring words in all words in all things and at all times… for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say (just as King David did when he was facing one of the worst situations in his life), “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6 (parentheses mine and added).
I’ll close with Christ’s final words that apply to us at all times no matter what we’re facing as we can count on Him, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
My final prayer whenever I hear of anyone I know passing is simply this…
I pray that they are in your hands and I know I can trust You, Lord. For those who remain and struggle with the questions, the grief and loss, may they come to know you for the first time as Savior and Lord or, even in the pain and heartache, to know you more fully as their Lord!
Choose, even as we contemplate this tragedy and the painful realities of this life, to make it a great day and God bless in Christ!
Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – So often in the middle of pain and trials and loss, we allow our feelings to dictate and guide how we will respond. While they are very real, they are also very much tied to our natural inclinations and desires and easily lead us astray. God’s Word and Spirit are much better choices as we work through the emotional pain. You can trust in Him no matter what.
Love and Lordship…Action Item – Have you ever stopped to think about your reactions and what they stem from when you face heartache and loss? Begin even now to look at the Scriptures in this article and other related as you study His Word and ask Him in prayer to show you how you can focus on Him and the eternal perspective while still living and dealing with this temporary life.