In good times, we tend to think we control life. We have control of our family, our money, our jobs and our lives. When crisis or tragedy hits, we quickly realize we’re not in control of everything and that feels so out of control, so uncomfortable and abnormal. When we cannot explain something or make sense of something, we then look for something or someone to blame. Ultimately we may look to blame God because He’s God and He could make things occur differently.
Tragedy, loss and grief have struck most of us. For some it has been far greater. Psalm 34:19 says, “The good man does not escape all troubles, he has them too.” My very first funeral as an ordained pastor was for an 8-year-old little girl who was hit by a truck on a busy street. I have conducted funerals for several friends who have committed suicide. These bring a very harsh reality home to our emotional selves. We grieve because we’re not built to handle such great loss.
I do not believe it is the will of God to initiate anything that will hurt, harm, injure, cause disease, cause loss or premature death to us. The inordinate, incomprehensible, unimaginable, unconditional and relentless love of God will not initiate anything that is not in love, respect and acceptance of His creation. Does He hand us tragedy to create strength or stamina in us to also then create personal growth? No. Can he use these things in our lives? Yes.
During these seasons we will discover the real us. This abnormal pressure will help us to discover what is deeply hidden within our soul and spirit. If there is fear there, it will surface. If there is anger there, it will surface. If there is faith there, it will surface as well. Think about what has surfaced, been exposed in you during difficult times. It is said that while we love the normal, comfortable times, the greatest level of personal growth occurs during the difficult times.
In 1994 there was a scientific experiment called the Biosphere 2. It was an artificial environment that scientists created in Arizona and was the size of two football fields. Within this biosphere there was a mini-environment including a desert, rain forest and even an ocean. Almost all weather conditions could be simulated with one exception—naturally occurring wind. Without the stress of the wind, tree trunks grew weak and bent over, unable to sustain their own weight. Wind, it was discovered, was a natural stressor that actually strengthens trees and their root system.
During a season of a felt loss of control, we can move from denial, to anger, to bargaining, to acceptance, but we must keep moving through the process in order to reach reinvestment. What is the reinvesting stage? It’s when we realize the need to not be so overwhelmed and self-consumed with our personal loss of control and begin reaching out and helping others in their loss.