Why do tragedies occur? 10 things to embrace during seasons of pain

Today, a godly, selfless, radiant wife and Mom of three little girls is being laid to rest. A missionary pouring out her life in a foreign land.  A woman of kindness and enthusiasm and joy. And not that it matters, but she was also very beautiful.

Her young husband is left alone to raise these precious babies and thousands of friends are grieving with him.  Missing Kyra, too.  Wondering how he will manage, where will he land, and why.

From an earthly perspective, it just doesn't make sense.  It doesn't seem "fair".  Why would God allow such a tragedy to befall such wonderful people?  People whose only goal was to serve Him.

I surely cannot answer the "why"  It doesn't make sense to me, either.  If I were running the Universe, I'd take out a whole lot of other people before I brought pain to this family.

Indeed, I cannot answer the "why".

Except with a "WHO". 

All I have to offer myself and the others who grieve today is the confidence that God is Who He says He is.

Here are some thoughts that I am encouraging myself with today in hopes that something might encourage you as well:

1.  God is in control of all of history, including events that bring pain to those He loves. He is sovereign over all.  Isaiah 45:5-7 declares this boldly:
"I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me, there is no God.  I will gird you, though you have not known Me, that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me.  I am the Lord and there is no other; The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these."
Since He is God, He can do whatever pleases Him and He doesn't owe me an explanation. Even if He explained Himself, there are some things I could not understand this side of Eternity.  Settling the issue of His sovereignty is the first step that leads to peace and joy.  I can trust His absolute control.

2.  God is love and He cannot act apart from His nature.  All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. (Psalm 25:10) and Psalm 145:17 - The LORD is righteous in all of his ways and graciously loving in all of his activities.
His sovereignty would be terrifying if He were not total and complete and unwavering LOVE.  He is immutable (Malachi 3:6).  I can trust His love.

3.  God is always at work to accomplish His purpose. Even if I can't see what He's doing.  Nothing can prevent His plan from unfolding.   Isaiah 14:24 and 27:The Lord Almighty has sworn,“Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,and as I have purposed, so it will happen   For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back
But the very best part is that His purpose, His plan, is good (for His people, anyway!)...For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 and again in Romans 8:28 -  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whoi have been called according to his purpose
I can trust His plans.

4.  Sometimes He requires hard things of those He loves. Things that cause pain and suffering and doubt.  For no apparent reason.  When we suffer the consequences that accompany sin and wrong-doing, we can see the reason.  When we are living righteously and serving Him with our whole heart and then suffer, that's the times that bring the most pain.  The hard questions.  The penetrating doubts.
Here's what the Apostle Peter says in his first epistle, chapter 4, verse 12:  Beloved, do not be surprised and the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.  So when hardship comes, don't be surprised.  He told us this would happen.  Don't lose heart.  Keep the faith.  He keeps His Word....I can trust Him.

5.  He will judge those who hurt His people.  When tragedy comes, we might be tempted to feel anger towards those who seem to cause it.  But God exhorts us instead to forgive them, to pray for them, and to rest in His judgment.  For the Lord is a God of retribution;he will repay in full (Jeremiah 51:56) He is not only LOVE, He is also HOLY.  And JUST. Resting in the unshakeable truths of His sovereignty, His love, and His good purpose, we can trust and obey His command to forgive.  And to pray not for His judgment on the perpetrator but that salvation would come.  He desires that none should perish.  I can trust His heart.

6.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  God is not a passive observer nor a distant spectator.  Psalm 46:1 says God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble  A very present help  He knows our pain, He hears our cries, and He is right there with us - supplying comfort and guidance and strength.  And even joy.  He gives us Himself.  And we find that is enough.  I can trust His presence.

7.  It's ok to ask Him "why".  I think God would far rather we run to Him with an honest hurting heart and pour out our questions than to withdraw from Him and let our questions fester.  When we do that, we open up our hearts to hear His truth and receive His grace. Psalm 42:9 is such a pouring out - I will say to God my rock, "Why hast Thou forgotten me?  Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"  And, like the Psalmist, when I take my hurts to Him, I find the answer - I can trust that my Hope is in Him.

8.  One day, the suffering and tragedies here on Earth will make sense.  Romans 8:18 explains: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us .  I can hardly imagine what That Day will be like, when the veil that clouds our understanding is lifted and we see Who He Is, His Glory, HIM.  We will know Him, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, having been conformed to His death in order to attain to the resurrection (Phil. 3:10,11). And this life with all its pain will be eclipsed by Eternity - Oh, how abundant is your goodness,  which you have stored up for those who fear you (Psalm 31:19)   I can trust my future to Him.  

9.  He will give me the grace I need to trust Him in the hard and inexplicable places of life.  When I contemplate what is needed to survive some of the hardships God allows in people's lives, I practically shudder.  I shake my head, knowing I could not bear it.  Even from a distance, the pain seems too great, the requirements too much, the burdens too heavy.  Then I am reminded that God doesn't give me the grace to bear anything that He doesn't give me...that's why it seems unbearable to me.  But when He does call us to suffer, to experience dark paths, to endure the seemingly unendurable - that's when His grace is made available to me.  If I ask.  Not before. 
And that's when I find that His grace is indeed "sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9) I can trust Him to give me grace.

10. I can choose joy. Habakkuk 3:17-19 explains that I can choose joy in the midst of loss and disappointment and pain...and when I find that joy in Him, I find strength and security and peace.

 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer's;
    he makes me tread on my high places

No, I cannot explain why tragedies occur.  I cannot give an answer to the "why's" in times like this.  Even though I don't know "why", I do know WHO. 

And I trust Him.

Though he slay me, I will hope in him  Job 13:15