What Do You Do When Tragedy Comes?
By Boaz Wadel
Q:April 16, 2013 - Please join us in praying for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. If your heart is heavy and you wonder how you would react in the face of tragedy, please read this timeless article from Billy Graham.
What would you do if the cities in your country were leveled by missiles or enemy bombers?
How would you react if an earthquake or tornado cut off all communication, water and electrical sources?
What would you do if a group of terrorists held you hostage?
The need for turning to God has never been more urgent!
If we want to have resources in our possession for a day of disaster, we need to have a spiritual survival kit: God's storehouse of supplies for us.
But we must meet some requirements before we can receive the abundance:
First, we need to make sure of our relationship to God. We must be prepared to meet God at any moment. Isn't it strange how we prepare for so many things except meeting God? Getting to know God and being able to call on Him is the first step in storing up for the storms. Getting to know God is more than treating Him as a casual acquaintance-it is developing a deeper relationship with Him every day.
Second, we need to learn how to walk with God in our daily lives. Have you ever been asked, "How is your walk?" Some Christians will know immediately that you are asking about their walk with God, but others may say, "Well, I do about two miles a day."
I know people who seem to be holding the hand of God throughout life's journey. I also know people who are lagging far behind.
In the Old Testament there are vivid examples of people who walked with God. Abraham walked with God and was called a friend of God. Noah walked with God, and when the Flood came, Noah was saved. Moses walked with God, and when the hour of judgment fell upon Egypt, Moses led his people to victory. Daniel walked with God, and he was saved from the lions' den.
God does not always pull His children out of deep water. Peter was crucified upside down; Andrew was tied to a cross for three days before he died; John was a prisoner on a desolate island; Bartholomew was beaten; Thomas was murdered. These men walked with God. And today we too have access to that same strength that the apostles did.
Third, we need to read and memorize Scripture. We have heard many stories about Christians who, while in prison camps, had no Bibles but who had portions of Scripture committed to memory. One Christian in a prison camp for three years said that during his imprisonment, his greatest regret was not having memorized more of the Bible.
People have told me that in their suffering, they sometimes could only remember small parts of Scripture. Several years ago my wife, Ruth, had a terrible fall. She suffered a concussion and was unconscious for nearly a week. When she regained consciousness, she had lost a great deal of her memory. Most disturbing to her was that she was unable to recall the Scriptures that she had learned throughout the years.
The Bible verses of a lifetime were more precious to her than any of her material possessions. One night, when she was praying, she said, "Lord God, take anything that I have, but please bring back my Bible verses."
Immediately this verse came to her mind: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."(4) She did not remember having memorized that verse, but God brought it back to her.
She has continued to memorize, and one of those passages is Romans 8:31-39. I urge you too to memorize it and hide it away in your heart. When persecution, trouble and adversity arise, these verses will give you hope and strength.
What a great storehouse we will have when those thoughts are in our hearts!
What verses have you stored up for the future?
Fourth, we need to make prayer our priority. We live in a materialistic world, but it seems as if we pray only during a crisis, and then between crises we neglect to pray. But we have so many battles going on that we should be a people of prayer. Our government needs our prayers. Our leaders need our prayers. Our schools need our prayers. Our youth need our prayers. Our families need our prayers.
Are we prepared spiritually as individuals, as a nation, for the increasing attacks upon us? We have "spiritual forces of evil"(5) at work in our world. Depravity seems to be increasing every year. We need to be in prayer against those "powers of darkness."(6)
In the Bible is an account of prayer being used as a weapon against a wicked ruler. Sennacherib, an Assyrian leader, had boasted that he would defeat God's people and would take over their land. His propaganda machine was powerful. He sent messages to Israel, taunting the people about their weakness and boasting of his strength. In the arms race of their day, the Assyrians were definitely ahead.
But Israel's king, Hezekiah, was a man of faith. He knew that on a purely human level the Assyrians could destroy Israel. But Hezekiah had a secret weapon. He fell to his knees in prayer.
Look what happened: "The Lord sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. [Sennacherib] withdrew to his own land in disgrace. ... The Lord saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem. ... He took care of them on every side."(7)
Miracles have happened when God's people have turned to Him in prayer. God does not always deliver us out of catastrophe, but He promises to be with us throughout.
Are we preparing for the storms of suffering? Or will we be caught without resources? The best way to prepare is to deepen our spiritual lives, to deepen our life in the Holy Spirit.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing experience. When Paul wrote, "Be filled with the Spirit,"(8) he conveyed the idea that we keep on being filled with the Spirit, like an ever-flowing spring. We have God's storehouses available to us at all times. When the resources are needed, they are there for us.
So be prepared. When the "day of evil"(9) comes, we will not be controlled by the circumstances around us; rather, we will depend on the resources of God.
(1) 2 Timothy 3:12, NIV. (2) Cf. Matthew 26:34-35. (3) 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV. (4) Jeremiah 31:3, KJV. (5) Ephesians 6:12, NIV. (6) Cf. Ephesians 6:12. (7) 2 Chronicles 32:21-22, NIV. (8) Ephesians 5:18, NIV. (9) Ephesians 6:13, NIV. Bible verses marked NIV are taken by permission from The Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, Colorado Springs, Colorado