Perspectives with Rev. Clarence Witten


Trouble and Tragedy

It seems that we’ve seen a lot of trouble and tragedy lately. Terrible floods in Alberta, this horrendous disaster in Lac Magentic, plane crashes. 

Across the world it’s the same: ongoing violence in Syria and now again in Egypt. What to make of it? How do we understand all these awful things?

Some would say that all these awful things that happen are just random. There’s no rhyme of reason to them. There’s no god or creator overseeing things. The world just evolved and now things continue to just happen.

If there’s anyone to affect what happens it’s us. We’re it. As for the purpose or end result of this world, they’d say, that there isn’t any. We live, we die, that’s it. This way of looking at things seems mighty meaningless to me. Why live, why be good, why anything. 

A world like this would also be a pretty scary place. Imagine there not being anyone in control. Kind of like racing down the highway without anyone at the wheel.

Another way people look at trouble and tragedy is to see it in terms of karma. People reap what they sow. People get what they deserve. If you’re good, good things will happen to you. If you’re bad, it’ll be the other way around. Somehow the universe is able to pay you back what you have coming to you. I hear more people talk like this is a cool way to look at life.

But is it? Are we then to think that those people in Alberta got what they had coming to them? Or beautiful Lac Magentic deserved the awful destruction brought on by the explosion and fire of that runaway train? Yuk. This seems awfully cruel to me. It adds insult to injury.

How then should we see trouble and tragedy? There may not be simple answers, but the Bible sure gives us some helpful insight as it avoids both of the unhelpful approaches mentioned so far. 

First it makes it clear that this world is not out of control. There is a god overseeing everything, a god who made all things well. Trouble and tragedy entered the world thanks to us (read Genesis 3 for the details.) 

The Bible also steers clear of saying that people get what they deserve in this life (read John 9:3 and Luke 13:1-5).

The Bible makes it clear that in the perfect world God created there was no trouble, no tragedy. Best of all, the day is coming when God will once again perfect his creation. That’s why he sent his son Jesus. 

Christ came to pay the world’s debt on the cross. Those who accept that payment personally will one day live in God’s new heaven and new earth. A place where trouble and tragedy are banished forever.

One last thing. Jesus said that even though there’s nothing good about trouble and tragedy in themselves, they can serve a good purpose. They can turn us to himself (see Luke 13:3). They can help us see our need of him. 

As we consider all the bad things happening lately, first, let’s pray for all those affected. May we also see that there are answers in God as to what’s happening. And there are long term (as in eternal) solutions. They’re found in faith in Christ.

Pastor Clarence Witten

Community Christian 

Reformed Church

Dixon’s Corners

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