We live in a world of tragedies and read about them every day via newspapers, the internet and television. Because of the frequency of such reports, we can become immune to the personal suffering involved and tend to think tragedy happens to other people, but not to us.
John Miller slowly began to back up his car in his driveway when he felt an unexpected bump. He stopped the car and got out to see the lifeless body of his year-old son, Jonathan, lying in the driveway. His two older children had watched as he had killed his youngest son.
The paramedics and police were called and the police attempted to comfort the family, reminding them that accidents can happen to anyone. King Solomon had also pondered this question and, after contemplating the vagaries and uncertainties of human experience, concluded that “time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
Mr Miller wrote about his devastating accident in the hope of encouraging people who experience similar trials. He assures his readers that even after the worst of tragedies, eventually the pain subsides, and the memory of the tragedy can serve as a motivation to bring positive changes to your life.
He said his first thought on seeing his youngest son lying, lifeless in the driveway was that he would live again. Reliance on God’s Word and the biblical promises was foremost in the Miller family’s recovery from this tragedy.
Accepting the reality of what has happened is also an important step towards recovery. Mr Miller mentions recounting the event to a close friend and finding great comfort in doing so. Family members were also encouraged to discuss what happened as often as necessary in order for everyone to come to terms with the tragic circumstances.
It was important to realise strong emotions are a natural reaction, ranging from anger to guilt, and obviously including anxiety and utter despair. He revealed this emphasis on communication was especially important for his children.
Some of the most vital advice given to the family was from their pastor who urged them: “Whatever you do, don’t start blaming each other or God.”
Finally after the process of accepting the reality of what has occurred has taken place, it’s important to ask yourself how the tragedy can help in making positive changes in your life? It’s also natural to ask what could be the reasons God allowed me to suffer like this?
The Apostle Paul gives some insight into the answer to this question in his second letter to the Corinthians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).
God expects us to use our experiences to comfort others in the same way He comforts us --- to reach out to others, comforting and encouraging them with the sensitivity we have to their circumstances because of our own experiences.
Another outcome that can develop from tragic experiences is an unrelenting motivation to enter God’s Kingdom. The death of a loved one should naturally fill us with a sense of obligation and responsibility to seek that Kingdom—if not for our own benefit, certainly for the benefit of the deceased.
So, the final step is to look to the future. The Bible is replete with promises of a future life for the deceased. Jesus himself said, “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” and that “the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 11:25; 5:28-29). The prophet Ezekiel saw the resurrection of the dead in a vision from God and graphically recorded it for us in Ezekiel 37.
In spite of tragedy, God promises us “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), and that we will not suffer anything that is not common to man or more than we can bear.
The Good News Magazine