Tragedy has touched every life. And we can carry our tragedies into 2018 and allow them to define us. Or, we can turn our tragedies into treasure, then triumph, and let 2018 be the our best year ever! Which would you prefer? This series will provide some keys to turn tragedy into treasure and treasure into triumph.
Tragedy: In The Extreme
We need to get a couple of things straight at the outset. First, the assumption in this series is most of my readers are believers. And I am fully aware that the greatest of all human tragedies is for anyone to suffer the eternal consequences of their sin. Believers, by definition, have been saved from that tragedy. They have experienced the truth of:
- Romans 3:23
- Romans 6:23
- Romans 5:8
- Romans 10:9-10
- Ephesians 2:8-9
- and, John 3:16
Everything a person needs to know to escape the greatest of all tragedies is contained in the verses above.
Second, divine forgiveness doesn’t exempt believers from tragedy. So what do we do with those tragedies? Another extreme failure would be letting our tragedies define us and/or control us. This is what I call the Christian Identity Crisis. Far too many believers suffer from it. And that brings the question:
How can we turn tragedy into treasure?
My Sordid Past: Cultural Comparison
Where does tragedy live? The future doesn’t yet exist. Tragedies unfold in the present but they are not complete. Our failures (tragedies) are fully seen in the past. And there’s a great deal of worldly ‘wisdom’ about dealing with the past. A large part of that ‘wisdom’ is harmful!
I have two observations that provide a good backdrop to this discussion. They are:
- My own experience
- Current cultural scene
There are failures in my past. The ones I deem as tragedies are those of my own making that harmed others. We’ve all got memories like that. In my case, I was a great deal like Jonah (running from God). The odd thing was I never left the church and ministry in order to run from Him. (Yes, that is possible!)
Romans 8:28 lets us know that God can bring good from all things. It doesn’t say all things are good. What did He do? God knew the errors of my ways. And the consequences of those errors became God’s ‘great fish’ to swallow me and spit me out on a much better, Kingdom-focused path. That dark period of life lasted about 5 years. Was it a tragedy that my family and others suffered from my mistakes? Absolutely. But…
Let’s suppose you knew every detail of that period. And let’s further assume you asked me the almost inevitable question:
If you could life life over, would you leave those years out?
My answer may or may not surprise you. But it has given me a valuable perspective on current cultural upheavals. And it all relates to turning tragedy into treasure.
Insanity seems to be running rampant in our culture. And I am almost certain that I will be misunderstood regarding my observations. Some in our culture are advocating wholesale amnesia regarding the history of our country. They are the epitome of the Worldly ‘wisdom’ graphic (above). Forgetting, hiding, or covering up the past is not how we turn tragedy into treasure. It’s a surefire way to repeat mistakes. One must know the past in order to learn from it.
And that is a key I learned from my own failures. My answer to the inevitable question is, and has been,:
No, I would not leave those years out. I would not choose to go through them again. But what I learned in those years is far too valuable to leave out of my life. That experience shapes who and what I am today.
What did I learn? I learned a great deal about me. Not all of that was pleasant and it wasn’t a quick process. I learned even more about my Savior and my God. Was there another way for me to learn all of that? Maybe. But those years were God’s way to bring good out of my abject failures. So would I be a proponent of just forgetting it all and pretending it never happened? Certainly not. That would condemn me to repeat those errors and be a prisoner of the past.
And those observations are applicable to a person, a culture, and a country. If we learn from the tragedy then it becomes a treasure to us. But there is much more to this process. To overcome our Identity Crisis, we have to be able to turn treasure into triumph. And this is only an opening statement! More keys to treasure & triumph in the next post!
Soli Deo Gloria!