It is barreling down the road like a Mack truck bent on destroying your dreams, your hope and your faith and grinding it into dust. It wants to plow you over and leave you gasping for air in the road side ditch. Good luck calling for help, your cell phone just got crushed as well. While you lay in the grass hemorrhaging blood and gasping for breath thoughts race through your mind. You can hardly believe you’re here, and that this happened to you. Heck you may not even know what hit you.
What is it?
Suffering and sorrow.
No matter your age, where you are from, or your station in life the dark night of the soul is coming for you. You might as well buckle your chin strap and brace for impact. It has you in its sights and you can't do anything to avoid it.
Money, position and power might insulate you from some of it, but in the end it catches up with us all.
You will be attended with grief at some point in your life.
What do you do when that day comes?
In the face of what you don't know or fully understand, cling to what you do know. There are at least three things to cling to when that day darkens your door.
I. God is good. God's character displays His goodness. History and His word show Him to be loving (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:7-11, John 3:16), faithful (Deut 7:6-9, 2 Timothy 2:13, Psalm 33:4) and gracious (Exodus 34:5-7, Psalm 86:5, 15, Ephesians 2:8-9, Matt 9:27).
II. God is in control. Another way of saying this would be to state that God is sovereign. When we think about God's sovereignty we primarily think of three attributes of God. Omnipotence, all powerful and able to do as He chooses (Psalm 135:5-6, Job 42:2, Philippians 3:20-21). Omniscience, knowing all things past, present and future (Psalm 147:5, Isaiah 46:10, Hebrews 4:13). Omnipresence, always and completely present everywhere (Jeremiah 23:24, Proverbs 15:3, 1 Kings 8:27, Psalm 139:7-12).
III. God is trustworthy. God can be trusted upon to keep His word, and promises (Hebrews 10:23, Titus 1:2). In light of His goodness and sovereignty we can trust Him. While we often do not understand many of the events that attend us in this life, we can entrust ourselves in to the arms of a good, loving Father who not only cares for us more deeply that we can imagine, but who is in control of the universe and has promised that nothing we here endure is without plan, purpose or design.
When you cling to these truths found in God's word, it will buoy you in the sea of life. It will keep you afloat though the waves dash about and sink you with regularity. You will return to the surface by God's grace.
Process with others
One of the greatest gifts God has given us is each other, the church. When disaster strikes we are not left alone to figure things out. We have the amazing opportunity to half our burdens by sharing them with others. But other people can't help you if they are unaware of what is going on in your life. Open up and share honestly about your life. I know it can be a scary thing. You wonder what other people will think and what they will say. You will be pleasantly surprised at how many other people have experienced similar things and most importantly you will be deeply touched by their compassion and support as you walk through a trying season. The church is made up of crazy, mixed up people like me and you, but there is no better place to be when you're blindsided by disaster.
Here is a picture of what this looked like recently in a neighborhood not to far from here when tornados ripped through Garland and Rowlett.
Remember things will not always be so
This world is touched by the curse. A result of our sin and rebellion. But this will not always be the case. This world is full of many sorrows and in this life we are promised trouble, but God's grace is greater than the storm and just as He calmed the one upon the sea, so also will He calm this one. You are buoyed by the words of God and His promises that no suffering you here endure is without meaning and that great promise that He will soon make right all that has gone awry because of sin.
At the end of the day we desire to say as the saints of old that, "blessed is the name of the Lord" and "it is well with my soul."
If ever there was a man who's life had been hit the full force of the Mack truck of sorrow, it was Horatio Spafford. In the midst of difficult suffering and tragic circumstances he authored this beautiful hymn. Below is a video from Desiring God with Jimmy Needham singing "It Is Well" and John Piper telling the moving story behind it. It is my prayer that your soul would be buoyed by the truth that is found in these lyrics and that you would bookmark these truths for when your own day of trouble comes.