The Bible says, “ Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4
How do we react to tragedies in life which test our faith and our trust in a God who is good? Do the circumstances we find ourselves in change either our opinion of God or our relationship with Him?
Many who have lost loved ones to suicide have faced and pondered the idea of their faith being tested. Myself included. Often, all the things we learned in life and everything we thought we believed about God, ourselves, our loved one, and the workings of the world come into question. And certainly, when misery strikes, we hardly consider it to be “an opportunity for joy”.
But if I could, for a moment, assume that God was allowing my faith or my family to be tested by my child’s suicide, there is one thing I am certain of:
I vow to pass this test and allow it to become my testimony.
Ironically, one day recently, my husband kept humming the hymn “It is Well With my Soul”. He eventually was compelled to research the details behind that tune and discovered that Horatio Spafford wrote those lyrics after receiving the devastating news that all four of his daughters had tragically died in a shipwreck. I might mention as well that Spafford had previously lost his 2 year old son and also suffered great financial loss due to the Chicago Fire of 1871. In addition, many years after penning the hymn, Spafford had three more children but lost a four year old son to scarlet fever.
Was Spafford’s faith tested? You bet! Again and again! But as you’ll find out in the song, not only did he pass these tests, he also used his life experiences to vocalize a testimony that has inspired generations of people around the world.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul…”
No one enjoys a test or welcomes the grueling exhaustion of challenges and struggles. Yet, in the midst of tragedy – when we might feel most like turning our back on God – we can cling to His promises and do our best to let the world know that despite great pain, our faithful Heavenly Father was there for us always, even on our darkest days. And the world will watch.
Has God been faithful to you during tremendous sorrow and heartbreak? Has He consistently kept every promise in His Word? Has He lit your path, comforted your heart, and sent loved ones to help with your burdens?
Then may you, too, begin this New Year inspired to look for opportunities to share your testimony with others!
And I will do the same,
“…If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”
I Peter 3:15