It seems as though disasters have become an inevitable part of life these days. COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in devastating consequences for many of us. I have been ministering to many hurting people the past few months, and do you know what I have found? People facing tragedy need encouragement more than they need explanations. They need hope more than they need pat answers. We live in a fallen world. There are few things that are more certain than the reality that we will all face some losses during the course of our lives.
When disastrous losses occur, we are tempted to ask, “Why?” but sometimes such questions are unanswerable – we simply don’t know. What we really need is encouragement, not explanation. Instead of asking, “Why?” we need to ask “What can I do now? What is my next step?”
One Old Testament book is all about rebuilding after a tragedy. Nehemiah 2:17 says, “But now I said to them, ‘You know full well the tragedy of our city. It lies in ruins, and its gates are burned. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and rid ourselves of this disgrace!’”
Rebuilding is much harder than building from scratch. It’s sometimes true for cities, for our lives, church and businesses. I pastored a church in Lebanon City for 25 years. We had three buildings that were attached, each built at a different time. The oldest part was constructed in 1945. When we decided to renovate and upgrade, we discovered that it is easier to build from scratch than to remodel and retrofit older buildings.
Our culture and economy are in the process of recovering and rebuilding. So are our lives. When disaster has struck and it’s time to rebuild, can I offer you seven steps to take?
Release your grief. Recognize that it’s OK to mourn, but it’s not good to resist, rehearse, reduce, or repress your grief. Grief and its five stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) is the emotional process that God equipped us with to cope with loss. Use it wisely and well.
Resist bitterness. Only you can destroy your life through a choice to be bitter over what has happened the past few months. Bitterness only prolongs the pain, so ask yourself, “Do I want to stay bitter or get better?” God’s Word warns us that a root of bitterness will bear the fruit of trouble and corruption (Hebrews 12:15). Beware of bitter roots!
Re-evaluate your life. Disasters help us to clarify what matters most. For many, the silver lining in the recent cloud has been rediscovering rest, margin, and reconnection with family. We can lose everything, but there’s one thing that can’t be taken away – a relationship with Jesus Christ, and His mission for us on earth!
Receive help from others. The best way to get through this is to stay connected. Stay connected to the church. When we decided to open the doors of Lifeway Church on May 31st, we were blown away by two packed services. Many were starving for connection and corporate worship. But our natural tendency sometimes is to withdraw when we are hurt or confused. Instead, we need to build a network of support. You were not designed to do life alone. Build bridges to people, not barriers that keep them away.
Rely on the Lord. I remember reading after a tsunami hit Sumatra, Indonesia on December 26, 2004, that 227,898 people were killed or listed as missing and presumed dead. Relief workers learned one secret Islanders had for surviving a storm: tying themselves to well-established trees and waiting for the storm to blow over. The soul tied to Christ can weather the fiercest storm.
Refuse to be discouraged.When there’s nothing left to do, just stand. Reach out to others. Realize that you/we are blessed to be a blessing. Regardless of what has happened, we still have a calling and mission. The work MUST go on! The lost MUST be won! God’s Kingdom MUST be advanced!
It is time to take back what the enemy has stolen from us!