Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Triumph In Tragedy


(Written shortly after 9-11)

We all watched in utter astonishment as that second jetliner crashed into the side of the World Trade Center. Tears rolled down my cheeks, when in horror, I saw the first of the 2 towers collapse into a huge pile of rubble. Never in a million years could you have convinced me that those things would take place in such a short period of time in a country not in the midst of war. But the sad truth is, they did. It wasn't a nightmare you wake up from. It was a reality you live through. It was a reality you weep through. It was a devastating reality such as we have never seen before, and I pray to God, we will never see its kind again. Destruction like this has the ability to bring about a demoralizing devastation that plummets those who experience it into a despair that they are powerless to recover from.

Can I ask you an important question right here? Have you ever experienced tragedy of this magnitude? I now live in Overland Park Kansas. Well over a thousands miles from New York City. While I wept at the sight, its devastation to me was not first hand, though that could be around the corner. But my 41 years has not escaped great tragedy altogether, and chances are, you have also tasted of that bitter fruit. I've wept at the loss of a child. I've watched cancer take the live of a loved one. As an 11 year old, I looked into the face of my 8-year sister and saw the devastation the teeth of a dog can cause.

Given time, you could probably add to my list, because tragedy, simply put, is a part of life. A part that we would all just as soon live with out, but most likely, we will all walk down that dark path. Having traveled that road, can I share with you what I have learned? The truth of the matter is, some of life's greatest lessons are learned through tragedy. The lessons may be very hard, but their value cannot be measured. I want to share with you the most important lesson I have learned in and through tragedy.

God is there! The path may be dark, but it doesn't have to be lonely, and anywhere God dwells, rest assured, incredible victory can be experienced. When you are in the middle of tragedies strong grip, you can't fathom victory. I, myself have uttered the words, "I can't possibly see how God can bring about victory through this tragedy." Then, I have watched as His hand has reached down and woven a beautiful quilt of victory from the threads of defeat. How He accomplished this, I haven't got a clue, but He did it. Not once, not twice, He's batting a thousand, never a miss. Not so much as a strike. He has an unexplainable ability to work about incredible victory when all we can see is despair. I've seen it first hand. I've also seen it in His Word. Almost 2000 years ago, God took, what was the most devastating tragedy anyone has ever faced and turned it into the greatest victory in the history of the universe.

Will He do anything less today? The answer to that is actually quite simple, No. We are already receiving stories of victory. A newly widowed young mother of 2 (soon to be 3) sharing on Larry King Live how her belief in Jesus has sustained her through this tragedy, then being invited back 2 nights later to do the same thing. Republicans and Democrats standing together united in heart and purpose (that's not far behind the miracle of the empty tomb). Prayers filling the halls of public schools, with not so much as a word from the ACLU (at least not yet). More than 19,000 at a fight filled hockey game pausing to listen to the words of a President and being so moved by those words that somehow, the game seemed unimportant. It ended, a third of the game still to play, with handshakes in the middle of the arena. With all my heart, I believe that we have only scratched the surface of the victories still to come. I'm quite certain that God will bring about so much triumph out of this tragedy, that we will loose track of all that He has done.

So don't loose heart my friend, thinking that all is lost, that you are all alone as you witness this tragedy, or as you go through other tragedies in life. Because God travels along side you on that road. We read in Habakkuk 3:17-19 " 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights."

Something that proved helpful to Pam and me after the loss of our baby some time ago, was memorizing and personalizing this passage. Let me tell me how we would quote it; Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no baby in the crib, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights."

Perhaps for you it will be different. For you it may be though there are no sheep in the pen and the innocent die in crumbling towers, or markets crash or no husband in the home, or I've lost my job, or my health is fading, or I've been diagnosed with terminal cancer, or … you fill in the blank. Each of you can personalize this verse in your own way. Am I promising that your problems will go away? Not at all. I am merely pointing you to The Sovereign LORD who will be your strength; who will make your feet like the feet of a deer, who will enable you to go on the heights.

God is at work and He will bring Triumph in Tragedy. We serve an awesome God and when all is said and done, He will reign victorious.

Watch, see, rejoice,

Jim Canady

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