Have you noticed every time the book of James is delved into, tragedy, hurt and pain come roaring in like a lion? Should we be surprised? The enemy is roaming the earth seeking whom he may devour, and what better time than when we are side-swiped with a tragedy to tempt us to turn away from God, the One who made us, knows our hearts, and loves us most.
Several years ago, my husband's men's Bible study group studied James in depth. Many hearts endured heavy pain and suffering during that time. Now, as our pastor is preaching through the book of James, trials and tragedy seem to be magnified. The enemy is roaring at our church family with much pain and sorrow. Just when we settle into the heart of the Word, seeking to understand truth in times of suffering, the enemy cranks it up a notch, sometimes several notches, placing more pain and suffering onto our already heavy hearts.
Spiritual warfare is real. The battle for our minds is intense. But, we belong to Christ and will not be shaken in our faith. Jesus is our Rock, our strong tower and our source of strength.
This morning, our church family's heart shattered over the deaths of four precious family members lost in a tragic house fire: a dad and a mom (both strong Believers and leaders), a bubbly little girl who made you smile every time she bounced into a room, and a precious, adopted 10-month old baby boy. We also deeply hurt for the two siblings, ages 12 and 16, who escaped the flames and a mother-in-law who is in the Augusta Burn Center.
How do we even begin to process this horrible event? What do you say to the family members and friends? How do we cope?
In my quiet time this morning, the focus verse was Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10 NIV).
As I continue to mull over the writer's words, I believe God is already, in this very moment, comforting and holding our broken hearts in His gentle, but mighty hands, and He is catching each and every tear falling from our eyes. I also believe we're being called to be still and know who God is, and to remember He is a good Father in ALL things. This is what needs to be foremost on our minds to battle the darts of doubt and fear the enemy may throw at us.
I quoted in my last post, God is attracted to the brokenhearted. (AnnVoskamp) If there's ever a moment to run into the arms of Jesus, it's when we experience the unimaginable, the unbelievable weightiest of heartaches. When we draw near to Him, He draws even nearer to us, cradling us in His loving arms like a tender-hearted daddy comforts his child.
How do we still our shattered hearts?
With the Word. Psalm 46 is a great place to camp out during any time of trouble to focus on Who God is:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (vs.1 ESV).
Because God is our refuge and strength...
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (vs. 2-3)
The weight of grief can feel like the earth is giving way under our feet, that our sorrow is more than we can bear, like we are drowning in the roaring foam of the sea. But, our God is here holding us up and giving us strength, courage and grace in the midst of it all.
As we still our broken hearts, may these words of our heavenly Father bring comfort, peace, and strength:
"You are My servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off";
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you. I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you,
"Fear not, I am the one who helps you"
(Isaiah 40:10, 13 ESV, emphasis mine).
With a broken heart, I cling to Christ.