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‘I just cannot understand how people without faith in the Lord can possibly cope when confronted by  life’s tragic events!”

You have heard that statement before, haven’t you? In fact the odds are that you yourself have expressed that very conviction. You may not have used those exact words but that is what you meant. All of us, sooner or later, will be assailed by tragedy in some form or other.

I used to respond to such invasions by saying something like, “I just cannot understand how people without faith in the Lord can possibly cope when confronted by life’s tragic events!”

I don’t do that anymore.

In fact, my response these days is to suggest that it is the people with faith who face the greatest challenge when tragedy comes knocking on their front door.

Think about that proposal for a moment. Take a moment to centre your thinking on someone from within your social networks. This person whom you are choosing has no faith in God. Now, they receive the tragic news that their medical tests have confirmed their worst fears. The tests have revealed that they have a terminal condition that is inoperable, aggressive and untreatable.

Your friend can only write off this experience as “bad luck”, “the luck of the draw”, “the cards they have been dealt” etc. Faith in God does not come into the equation.

Now, put yourself into that equation. Everything is the same as it is with your friend – except you have faith in God. And that creates a contradiction that can threaten

 to damage (if not destroy) your faith. You wouldn’t be the first and you won’t be the last.

So, for me, it is the person with faith who faces the greatest challenge. They are confronted with a belief system that is based on God being all loving and all powerful. How can they reconcile that revelation of the nature of God with the reality of a terminal disease? They can’t. Neither can you or I.

The challenge is, “Can you still trust a God who doesn’t live up to my/your expectations?”


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