From Tragedy to Purpose

This blog title came to me as I thought about the tragedy Mary Beth Chapman writes about in her book “Choosing to See.”

It’s a heart-wrenching account of the tragedy they had to face a few years ago when one of their sons accidentally hit his little sister with the car. Their little girl died. This book journals Mary Beth’s journey through this tragedy, through the months of grief following her daughter’s death. The title of the book “Choosing to See” describes the decision Mary Beth and the Chapman family had to make: they had to choose to see God in this tragedy. And they had to choose to trust God in the midst of this tragedy. Not only had they lost their little girl, but there was also the tragedy that it was their son who hit his sister with the car.

As I write this blog post another tragedy comes to mind. A wife and mother killed in a car accident three days before her daughter’s wedding. How do you wrap your mind around this? How do you try to understand it? The joy and anticipation of a wedding were crushed by this one phone call you received…

If you believe in a sovereign God, the God who created heaven and earth, the God who created each one of us, the God who loves us and the God who is good, how do you respond to such a tragedy?

How do I go about this verse in the Bible, Romans 8:28, when I think about this recent tragedy?

“And we know that God causes everything
to work together for the good of those who love God
and are called according to His purpose for them.”

Here are two quotes from two commentaries on this Bible verse:

“God purposes good for believers. Paul did not say that everything happening is good in itself. Rather he recognized that even problems and crises cannot derail a sovereign God. Because God is omnipotent and omniscient and omnipresent, He is faithful to bring ultimate good even from the most tragic happenings.” (Women’s Evangelical Commentary, New Testament)

“Suffering will still bring pain, loss, and sorrow, and sin will bring shame. But under God’s control, the eventual outcome will be for our good. God works behind the scenes, ensuring that even in the middle of mistakes and tragedies, good will result for those who love him. At times this will happen quickly… But there will also be events whose results for good we will not know until eternity. Our ultimate destiny is to be like Christ. God’s design is more than just an invitation; God summons us with a purpose in mind: we are to be like Christ and share His glory.” (Life Application New Testament Commentary)

I have not faced the tragedy of sudden loss. But I have faced the tragedy of divorce. It was not a surprise to me, no, I had seen it coming for some time. At that time I did not think anything good would ever come out of it. I could not see how anything good would ever happen to me. But looking back I know without a shadow of a doubt that God was there during those dark days. I even remember God’s presence on that dark, starless night in the country, when I saw the truck leave the driveway with my husband and his “stuff”. I remember standing at the living room window and screaming my heart out to God because I did not know how I would ever survive this, how would I go on with three little kids to raise on my own. And I physically felt God’s presence in the room. I felt His assurance and His presence. I felt peace about this decision.

Unfortunately there is suffering and tragedy all around us. Once the “dust” settles, we have to make a decision, we have to choose… My biggest concern was that I did not want to become bitter. It was not an easy process. There were many crossroads, many times where I had to choose… No, I didn’t always choose right. It is God who has redeemed even those poor decisions and choices.

God’s way is perfect.
All the LORD’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the LORD?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
God arms me with strength,
and he makes my way perfect.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
You have given me your shield of victory.
Your right hand supports me;
your help has made me great.
You have made a wide path for my feet
to keep them from slipping.
Psalm 18:30-36 (New Living Translation)


One comment

  1. Ann K says:

    Loss of a loved one, especially suddenly and tragically, is so difficult to understand! My husband and I lost his 18 year old son 17 years ago and the emotional pain and loss is still there, as it always will be. He also had experienced a bitter divorce years before I met him. But God does bring healing…so thankful for His presence in our lives!!! None of us could survive without His love and mercy!!
    Ann @ Christ in the Clouds

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