Today one of our teenagers in Rhea County was in a fatal car accident. Emily Cheeks was 17 years old and her death has left her family, friends, and our community asking the question “Why did this happen?” I wish I had the answer to that. I am sure that there are some who would give you a quick answer to that question. But, there are no pithy quotes or bumper sticker statements that can answer that question or soothe the hurt many are feeling right now.
When I was 18 years old one of my best friends from my church youth group died in a single car accident. When Josh died I had the same question; so did his family, friends, and the community around him in Jackson, MS. During that time and since God has continued to prove Himself faithful to provide peace and comfort through faith to those who seek Him in their darkest of places. God’s word serves to comfort and direct us in all of our circumstances.
David writes in Psalm 23:4 “4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
This Psalm is oft quoted in funerals because it reminds us that God is with the living. It serves as encouragement, comfort, and leadership from God to remember that like a good shepherd Christ is with us in our affliction and distress.
Psalm 69:29–30 “29 But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! 30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
Pain and hurt are real. God inspired His Word, and His Word cries out for healing and help in our times of pain and affliction. We can and should cry out to Him for help, he hears and He answers. His goodness moves us toward the praise of His great name.
But, why talk about praise when there is pain? Why move towards worship when there is death and loss? Because it is in these moments that we are face to face with the stark reality that this world is not all there is. We are reminded that in this life we have Christ, and He alone is our treasure, our comfort, and our salvation. When we lose loved ones, when there is unexpected tragedy, we see clearly that all we have is Christ.
2 Samuel 12:20–23 “20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
After the death of his son, David, washed and went to the Lord and worshipped. David understood that at the point of loss, all we have left is to be faithful to God by living obedient to the Lord until we see Him and our loved ones again.
In the wake of our current tragedy let us cry out to God. May we turn to Christ in the midst of crisis and proclaim that He is all we need. The song “All I Have Is Christ” by Jordan Kauflin serves us well as we worship God through tragedy and loss.
All I Have Is Christ
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI), by Jordan Kauflin
For those who are broken to the point of not having words or energy to worship right now, to those who struggle right now, look to Christ, and look to His body, the church to point your heart, mind, and soul to the Lord as we worship Him alongside you during this time. We are praying for you, we are broken with you, and we are trusting God together through times like these.
Pastor Rob Armstrong
Sr. Pastor, New Union Baptist Church