Enduring Tragedy with God's Grace
I was given a lovely reminder this week as I sat down with my coffee and microphone to record some more of my Grandma’s 50 years of Christian wisdom. About 4 years ago she lost her husband, my Grandpa. He was really amazing, it was a hard blow to all of us. When you experience a family death for the first time it calls a lot of things into question.
“How are we going to get through this?” being one of the big ones.
I remember thinking about my Grandma sitting in her home, alone for the first time. And that made me the saddest. All she did was go get groceries and when she came home… he was gone. What do you do with that? How do you process that?
I’m blessed to have both sides of grandparents be close friends, so one day my Grammy asked my Grandma, “Julie, I just don’t know how you’re doing this.” Grammy was afraid, thinking of if she would one day have to go through the same loss…
Grandma’s response is fascinating to me, and she discussed this topic in the podcast we recorded together. She revealed one of God’s mercies and blessings I’m so thankful for.
She said, “You aren't given the grace for imagined things, you're given the grace for real things.” Meaning, you might think about enduring what in your mind is the most terrible thing ever. The loss of a parent, spouse, child, etc. And the mere thought of it brings despair, depression and fear.
But when the event actually occurs, God’s grace is there to hold you. It catches you right in that moment between despair and anguish, where you’re the most vulnerable and desperate for love and comfort.
One of my favorite movie quotes is from Anne of Green Gables when Marilla says “To despair is to turn your back on God.” Don’t let that be your response to tragedy, when God is exactly the person you need to lean on in that moment.
Does that mean you aren’t sad anymore? No, absolutely not! But it gives you the bandwidth to handle tragic situations you might have otherwise imagined impossible to bear.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
I watched this happen in our community when a tragic event killed a father and two of his daughters. His wife, with their remaining three kids, had every right in the world to abandon hope, scream at God, disappear into her room for 5 years in a pit of depression and absolutely despair. But at the funeral, the pastor told the story of how the night of the accident, mere hours after the event, she pulled her oldest son close to her and opened to a verse in Isaiah where it talks about God doing a new thing. “Do you think he is doing a new thing in our family?” she asked her son. It brings me to tears just to think of someone’s immediate response being one of surrender and worship in the wake of a foundation crumbling event.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10
How merciful and wonderful is our God that he decides to bestow upon us the strength and grace with which to get through earth’s most terrible trials, and come out on the other side refined and pure?