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All About GOD - Growing Relationships with Jesus and Others

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Early morning phone calls.

Today I received this text message: "Hi, Christine. I don't know if you're up and going yet, but I know you get up early and have your time with God. I was just wondering if you could give me a call. I am on my way to Manchester, New Hampshire for work, but we had a terrible tragedy in my family yesterday. I just need a little support."

"Of course," I texted back, "I will step outside and call you right away."

With no preamble but the text message, she sobbed into the phone "My nephew hung himself yesterday."

Shocked. Heartbroken. A family’s life forever changed. How to make sense of the tragedy … oh, how to cope! Everyone reacts differently, to be sure. One Christian may run to God with the pain, and another is angry with God.

And for the irreligious, what then? A casting about for some kind of peace, some kind of numbing agent … alcohol, weed, Xanax, whatever. And is there any hope to be found? Yes. Sometimes when people are the most broken, they reach out to God - and find him with open arms to receive them.

This is not the first early morning phone call of its kind that I have received. . . so I am wary of them. It seems our reaction to such shocking loss depends on two relationships—relationship to the one who has died suddenly, and also the one we have with God. Where is God? And where was God?

These questions lead me to more questions, personal ones. And so I ask myself what I have asked you in the past week: Who is God to me? And further, what is my default setting? That is, when life falls apart, where, what or to whom do I turn?

I order my thoughts by recalling what I hold as true: God is good. His heart is good and right. He is not the author of pain or the cause behind a sudden death. There are things in life I do not understand—like why a young person would take his life, why good people get cancer and evil people seem to flourish, why the innocent and children suffer. But who God is still does not change. God loves me, and I love him—circumstances do not change either fact. Where is God now, as Peter’s mother and sisters grieve in sorrow? God is grieving with them. And I recall what the psalmist expressed, finding his words so meaningful.

“You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.”1

God is present in our pain. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”2 [also the words of the psalmist] Here’s the thing—as always, you and I have a choice; we can blame God or we can run to him. He has promised he will never leave us or forsake us.3

Tap your helmet, Christian, and run to God! For “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”4 God has not caused your pain, your loss or your suffering, but he is on hand, waiting to enfold you with his love. “The Lord your God is with you; he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you.The quietness of his love will calm you down.He will sing with joy because of you.”5

So get alone, get quiet—just you and God. Take him at his word, that he is present, closer even than a brother, and pray to him. Give him your pain. Ask him for the comfort of his Holy Spirit and an awareness of his presence.

He will not disappoint.

There cannot be any greater pain than that of a parent, whose child’s life has been suddenly cut off … God understands that. He has been there.

And now he wants to comfort you with the love of the Father.

So Just be Held, the song


1 Psalm 56.8

2 Psalm 34.18

3 Deuteronomy 31.6; Hebrews 13.5

4 Psalm 46.1

5 Zephaniah 3.17

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