When Tragedy Strikes

Life can sometimes seem quite vicious.

I was twenty years old when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and I still remember seeing my dad cry for the first time when he received that shocking news.

Even though I’m a pastor and I’ve “been around the block a few times,” it’s difficult for me to process these kinds of tragedies. There was a time when it seemed as though pastors had all the answers. They didn’t really, and now I know I don’t either. However, I am learning how to walk with the Lord in the midst of tragedy. I’m learning how to deal with hard situations.

All of us, including me, need to learn how to live with tragedy, and also how to live lives that blossom and are fruitful even when life’s circumstances leave us feeling wounded, broken, and hurt.

How do we live with wounds and pains?

I remember when my mother passed away, someone said to me, “Don’t let anyone ever tell you that time heals all wounds. That’s a total lie…the fact is that time only makes the wounds feel normal.” And I’ve found that to be true.

Even when tragedies happen, remember that Jesus is real and He will see us through.

As you know, the Bible is full of tragedies. It seems as if tragedies are reported on almost every page.

  • When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
  • Cain killing his brother, Abel.
  • Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery and told his father that he was dead.

The New Testament is filled with tragedies as well.

  • The crucifixion of our Lord Jesus.
  • The stoning of Steven, the very first martyr of the Christian faith.
  • And Paul, who was imprisoned, shipwrecked, and flogged for his faith.

No one escapes through life without experiencing tragedy. So the question is, “How do I get through this without losing my faith…or my mind?”

Let’s turn the word TRAGEDY into an acronym. Each letter stands for something very important when dealing with difficult circumstances.

T stands for TRUST: When tragedy happens we need to trust the Lord. This requires more than just, “I believe in God.” We need to trust that He will bear the weight of what we are experiencing. “Trust in the Lord with all your hearts, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

R stands for RECEIVE: Receive the comfort and care God will show you through His Spirit. He never promised you wouldn’t go through hard times, but He has promised His comforting presence. “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” -2 Corinthians 1:5

A stands for ACCEPT: Accepting the reality of tragedy is never easy. But you’ll never get past the pain and move toward healing if you’re unable to accept the fact that life can be full of challenges. “In the world, you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, because I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

G stands for GRIEVE: There’s no value in pretending like you’re not in pain, or putting on a mask to hide your suffering from the world around you. Step into the places that are causing you to hurt, in order to move through it toward healing. Even Jesus grieved when He was on earth, “Jesus wept.” -John 11:25

E stands for EMBRACE: We need to embrace life as it is, not as it used to be or as we hoped it would be. We need to embrace our situation for what it has become after the tragedy, for this is our new normal. There is a big difference between acceptance and embracing, isn’t there? Accepting says, “I’m going to endure this,” but embracing says, “I’m going to flourish in this.” That’s a huge difference. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:13-14

D stands for DESTROY: In the midst of our tragedies, we need to destroy negativity and fear. Tragedy can make you bitter or better. I’m reminded that when you put different things in hot water you get very different outcomes. A potato becomes soft and tender, but an egg becomes hardened. Don’t allow the tragedies of your life to make you calloused and hopeless. Allow God to stir your heart toward tenderness and joy. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” -Psalm 51:10

Y stands for YEARN: We are citizens of this Earth and Heaven as well, but we yearn for our final home. Life can be so painful and some of us will get through it limping. But Heaven will be the Great Relief. Never lose sight of the fact that everything will heal in the end. “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” -Psalm 84:2

20 Responses to “When Tragedy Strikes”

  1. I lost my mom to cancer 2 years ago September 25, 2020. It’s miraculous every time I see God move through people to speak much needed words. Thank you so much for allowing God to work through you. I needed this today so so so much…

  2. Thank you for this message. My husband, Rob ART, died in March 2022, and I’m working through these stages. You’ve made a clear Biblical argument for me to see, read, digest, and use as a road path through the next few months. I see the LORD working as I move forward and create a new life as a single senior. It is a challenge to have been with someone for 40 years and now alone. A challenging time, but I am NOT alone; Jesus walks with me through all of it! PTL! Thank you again for your HOLY SPIRIT-FILLED message, and may HE continue to anoint you and all HE has for you to accomplish.

  3. Lauren Haas

    I lost my husband 14 years ago suddenly no warning, my dad 33 years ago and my mom 8. I have a very heavy heart right now because three people I care about and love are dealing with cancer. Some days I want to give up, I feel broken and helpless like God has forgotten me and no longer listens to my prayers. Then again I don’t know what to pray for exactly.
    I was losing my faith and hope for awhile there.
    I just pray for peace for those I love and that He will do what is best for each of them.

  4. Bob Foster

    My older brother passed away last month from wasp stings that caused his heart to stop. His wife of 40+ years doesn’t know Jesus and doesn’t want to. We’re celebrating his life tomorrow there will be many non believers .

  5. Kimberly Cunningham

    I lost my mom June 8th and my best friend August 9th. Everyone in my family is gone outside of my kids and grandkids. My sister and her family died in 1996. My dad past 8 years ago. None of these deaths were natural- they were all horrible and traumatic. I have been acting like a child angry with my Father.. but I am working on turning it around because I do love God and I do have faith. Its just so painful.

  6. I recently lost my mom, and everyone grieves differently. To anyone who is experiencing the loss of a close loved one, grieve in your own way. Don’t let anyone tell you how you ought to be grieving, or make you do things you are not willing to do. Most importantly, pray and stay close to the Lord and he will get you through this.

  7. Daniel Fusco

    Oh Kim, I’m so sorry to hear of all the loss you’ve experienced. The Lord is gracious and He knows you’ve been devastated by your experiences. I hope you feel peace and comfort with each passing day. God bless.

  8. Daniel Fusco

    Joan, I’m so sorry to hear about your son. I pray you feel comforted today, and that you can experience peace on this side of life until you and your son are reunited. God bless you.

  9. Daniel Fusco

    Lauren, thank you for your honest ressponse. I’m so sorry for the loss you’ve experienced. Praying you feel God’s presence and His comfort today. And you don’t have to have words when you pray. The Spirit intercedes for us when all we can do is just sit in prayer with a broken heart. He knows.

  10. Daniel Fusco

    Oh Everett, I’m so sorry to hear of your wife’s passing. I admire your faith through this difficult time. And yes, you will see her again! I’m so grateful for the promise of heaven.

  11. Daniel Fusco

    Bob, I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. What a terrible ordeal for your family. I hope the funeral was a time of healing and remembrance and that a seed was planted in the hearts of those who were there to put their faith in Jesus.