As a chaplain at a trauma hospital just miles from the beaches of the upper Gulf Coast, I frequently deal with patients and families who have had diving accidents. In my experience, diving accidents best sum up what it means to have your world shattered.
Diving accidents means a family has come to our coast waters and beaches for relaxation and vacation but in a moment of time that fun turns into shock and fear. Diving accidents typically occur when a swimmer dives into water that is shallow, hitting their head, and oftentimes leaves their body without sensation or movement. Sometimes the victim is left a quadriplegic or sometimes they are left with partial paralysis of their limbs.
To go from actively moving in the sun on a beautiful day at the beach to suddenly being restricted by no mobility or minimal movement, dependent on others, is what it means to have your world shattered. Of course, an automobile accident, a fatal disease diagnosis, an illness, a death of a loved-one, or any number of unexpected turns for the worse can leave our lives shattered.
So how should we respond to these life shattering events? There are three insights from the Bible that I want to share with you in hopes that it may encourage you if you find your world shattered.
First, I want to share the lesson from the story of Jesus healing a blind man. It’s found in John 9 and in verse 2 we see the disciples asking Jesus about the blind man, “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2 NIV). I often hear the same response to tragedy today when families share something like this: “God’s judging him, that’s why this happened” or I hear “Why did this happen he is such a good person.”
Spiritually speaking, traumatic and tragic events do not happen because God is against us, nor are they obligated to not happen to us because of the quality of our character. In fact, in response to the disciples’ question Jesus said, “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3 NIV).
Allow me to break down what Jesus is saying here: Things happen. We live in a sinful fallen world. At any given time throughout the day we are exposed to the possibility of an unexpected accident, illness, or tragedy. However, whatever may happen to us is an opportunity for us to show others “the works of God” despite the accident, illness, or tragedy.
The works of God is His grace through us, His provisions for us, and His indwelling Holy Spirit to be a witness to those around us that we can have “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV) in the midst of horrible situations.
Second, I want to share with you something about facing trials. 1 Corinthians 10:13 states, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (NIV).
The Greek word for temptation is the same as the Greek word for trial. So if it helps you could read “trial” in place of the word “temptation” so you can know that in your shattered circumstances God is faithful, He will help you bear it, and He has provided for you to endure it. God is near you and He will go with you through this.
Finally, I want to share two insights from Hebrews 9:27-28 which states, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
The verse states that there is an appointed time of death and events in our life. God is not caught unaware of what happens in our life. He doesn’t look down from His throne and says, “Yikes, how did that happen? Poor guy.” Job 14:5 says that our “days are determined,” Psalm 139:16 says that our days are ordained for us, so the insight is that nothing befalls us without God’s fatherly eye and available care.
The other insight from Hebrews 9:27-28 that I wish to point out is the promise of salvation for those who “look for him” to “appear the second time.” Whatever pieces of your life are left shattered, find hope that the Lord Jesus is going to appear a second time and He will be making all things new. What hope we can have as we cope with trials here, knowing that one day the lame will leap, the sick will be whole, and the dead will be alive again.
After our world shatters we can begin to pick up the pieces, restore what remains, and move forward by remembering that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NIV).