“Many a one was disappointed in a love affair: it was God delivering from an ungodly partner for life, who would have been a constant hindrance to your spiritual progress! Many a one was cruelly treated by trusted and cherished friends: it was God breaking what would have proved an unequal yoke! Many a parent was plunged into grief by the death of a dearly loved child: it was God, in His mercy, taking away what would have proved an idol.” – A. W. Pink

God’s mercy does not always come to mind when a loved one passes away. But God’s love and grace are central to understanding true mercy. Life does not occur by cause and effect, God does not stand idly by; He is in every aspect of life. God loves us, even when life takes unexpected twists. The fact of the matter remains that due to His loving mercy things happen which we cannot comprehend, and it is our response to these tragedies which matter. C. H. Spurgeon stated it best: “What your God lays upon you, lay upon the Lord. His wisdom casts it on you; it is your wisdom to cast it on him. He gives you your portion of suffering; accept it with cheerful resignation, and then take it back to him by your assured confidence.”

In the same way, it was due to God’s mercy that he provided a Savior. Only through placing one’s faith completely in Jesus Christ may a sinner enter into heaven. It is the assurance of that fact which allows us to continue functioning when tragedy strikes.

When his son Absalom rebelled in a bid for power King David expressed his thoughts well in Psalm 55. First, David’s pain is evident:

Give ear to my prayer, O God,
And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
Attend to me, and hear me;
I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily,
Because of the voice of the enemy,
Because of the oppression of the wicked;
For they bring down trouble upon me,
And in wrath they hate me.
My heart is severely pained within me,
And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me,
And horror has overwhelmed me.
So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
Indeed, I would wander far off,
And remain in the wilderness. Selah
I would hasten my escape
From the windy storm and tempest.” (Psalm 55:1-8)

This feeling of wanting to flee is natural; we all feel this desire in times of trouble. It is how you act upon these feeling that matters. In times of crisis we must yield to God’s grace to carry us through.

Second, David’s anger is felt:

Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues,
For I have seen violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around it on its walls;
Iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it.
Destruction is in its midst;
Oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets.
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.
But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.
We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng.
Let death seize them;
Let them go down alive into hell,
For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them. (Psalm 55:9-15)

As David exclaims, a tender and confident trust has been shattered, his world appears to be shattering before his very eyes. It is here, in these times of troubles that our true character is brought to the surface.

But David’s confidence is in God:

As for me, I will call upon God,
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
For there were many against me.
God will hear, and afflict them,
Even He who abides from of old. Selah
Because they do not change,
Therefore they do not fear God.
He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him;
He has broken his covenant.
The words of his mouth were smoother than butter,
But war was in his heart;
His words were softer than oil,
Yet they were drawn swords.
Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
But You, O God, shall bring them down to the pit of destruction;
Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days;
But I will trust in You. (Psalm 55:16-23)

David’s only recourse was to turn to God. In God only, can peace from the pain and anger be found. The focus here is on David’s burden, which he properly places back on his Lord.

God allows crises to enter our lives and then requires us to give it back to Him with the full confidence that God’s divine plan far surpasses our own understanding.

~ In memory of Andrew James MacLean (September 21, 1986 – April 10, 2006)

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