What’s your goal in troubled times? As much as we’re often told that it’s okay to simply survive, most of us, if we’re completely honest, want more than that.
We want to turn something bad into something good. Something worthwhile. Maybe even something precious. There’s a reason so many cancer tragedies end in the formation of an organisation or charity. There’s a reason we prefer tales of people who have overcome illness, rather than the much more common stories of being overcome.
Christians talk a lot about peace. So much so that it’s easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong it you’re not an unflappable yogi during trials.
Seek something more than peace
Yet the reality is, our goal in tragedy is not to “keep calm and carry on”. Why?
Firstly, because unless you’re a natural Pollyanna, that’s going to be impossible.
Second, because being stoic does not change something bad into something good. It might make it easier to survive for a short while, but we want more than that. We want to look back at the dark days and say they were done well.
Living through tragedy well
So how do we live through disaster well? We take our terrifying anxieties and our aching sadnesses in both hands and we look heavenward. We choose to let despair draw us to Jesus, rather than away. We decide to live rightly during periods of sleeplessness and chaos. We recite our worldview over and over to our numb hearts until we find meaning in what is meaningful.
Jesus is king over this darkness.
Jesus is choosing to let me go through this for a reason and a purpose.
Jesus has my best interests at heart.
Seek a better peace
One day I will look back on my life, and I will see all my shadowy valleys gilded with the gold of a new Day dawning. I will behold a glorious picture which would have been impossible if my journey had taken place on a smooth, flat plain.
On that last evening I will realise that I have been made beautiful because Jesus led me over perilous mountain passes and through suffocating gorges, not in spite of them.
Our goal is not physical peace during agony and illness. Despair and fear does not mean you’ve failed in this walk called life. Rather, every emotion can be redeemed if we let it pull us towards Jesus.
Those who did not get peace
It’s not sinful to struggle in the face of affliction. Jesus was troubled before His death – did that mean He did not trust God enough? So many Christians have lived through immense hardship, and they have not come out unmarked – but they have come out more like Jesus.
I think of William Wilberforce, who suffered from nervous breakdowns each time his bill to end slavery was defeated. I think of Martin Luther who often felt driven to distraction by worry over his salvation, his teachings and his congregation. I think of Charles Spurgeon who struggled to find joy in the midst of ongoing depression.
I use these big names because they are well known, but there are so, so many more in the annals of history, many of which have left no mark at all in this world, save this: they were faithful with what they had been given. They struggled, they failed, they reached out to Jesus and they tried to love their neighbour.
Living well beyond peace
What more can we ask, than to be able to look back on dark days and hear Jesus say, you lived them well, good and faithful friend?
This, not physical feelings of peace or joy, will be what redeems our tragedy. This, not simply surviving, will be what forms our crown. And “this” is within everyone’s reach: all He asks is that we seek Him.
//When peace doesn’t feel achievable, where do you turn?
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