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Tragedy Into Triumph

tragedytotriumph.jpg One of the great challenges we all face in the journey of life is handling setbacks, disappointments, hurt, sometimes disaster or tragedy. A failure, mistake, sin, death of a loved one, accident, loss,  sickness, the list goes on. We don't like these times in our lives. Could God use such things for something good. 

How far can we go with verses like  Rom 8v28 "in everything God works for the good of those who love Him".  Does everything include the above list and other similar trials and tragedies?

John 20:1-8 (NKJV)  Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.
4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.  And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,
7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.

 

Most people don't talk about grave clothes.  Apostle John is an exception.  At first, the burial garments of Jesus were a symbol of tragedy. But on the first Easter Sunday God took clothes of death and made them a symbol of life and victory. God can turn any tragedy into a triumph if you will wait and watch.

Earlier in the week Jesus had been called King as he rode into Jerusalem, but by Friday they were calling for His death. How quickly things can turn.  John didn't know what you and I know that Friday's tragedy would be Sunday's triumph. Jesus would rise from the dead.

Question: What did John do on Saturday between Friday's tragedy and Sunday's triumph? The Bible doesn’t tell us about Saturday. All we know is this that when Sunday came John was still present.  Jesus was dead. But John had not left.

You would think he would have left.  It was possible the men who crucified Christ could come after him since he was a follower of Jesus.  He could have found good reasons to leave. It could have been he didn't have a suitable place to go. Or maybe he stayed because he loved Jesus.


To John, Jesus was more than a leader, someone who healed the sick and worked miracles, more than a teacher. He was also a friend and you don't abandon a friend.  As he had done in the past, John was always one to stay close to Jesus, closer than most. At this time, on Saturday he must have been devastated, confused. Why the cross, death, the tragedy. He was hurting and yet he stayed close to Jesus. What about you and me when we don’t understand, we are hurting, struggling, facing tragedy?  When it is Saturday in your life, what do you do? When you are between yesterday's tragedy and tomorrow's triumph what do you do? Do you leave God, or do you stay close to Him..?


Because John chose to stay close to Jesus on Saturday, he was around on Sunday to see the miracle.

The burial garments were still in their original state, undisturbed. How could that be. Seems impossible. There’s a huge message for us all in the state of the burial clothes of our Lord Jesus.

If friends or even the enemy had removed the body they would have taken the clothes with them. If they had unwrapped  the body, they certainly would not have bothered to leave the clothes in such perfect state. John didn’t know what you and I know now.  No one had taken the body though it appeared like some one did.  Then we read about John "he saw and believed".


Through the rags of death John saw the resurrection power of God. Its amazing that the burial garments became a symbol of life, victory, joy. God is the master of turning tragedy into triumph and He can do the same for you. He has done it so many times before.

Eg- The children of Israel were at a dead end between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. In this story, we see clearly  God making a way when there is no way. He has done that for me. Made a way where there was no way.

Eg- David was running for his life, hiding in caves and then becomes Israel greatest King. Running for your life becomes a symbol of God preparing His man. Shadrach, Meshac, Abednego come out of a fiery furnace unharmed and then are promoted. The fiery furnace becomes a symbol of being lifted up.
Could God do something similar in your life? 
Could he take what today is a token of tragedy and defeat and turn it into triumph and victory? Yes, He can!!


Eg-
Rafael Rosales was a minister in El Salvador. The Salvadoran guerrillas tried to kill him.  Left him to die in a burning automobile.  He escaped the car and country but could not escape the memories. The scars would not let him. He might never have recovered had the Lord not spoken to his heart.  He heard Jesus say  "They did the same to me”. Rafael began to see his scars differently. Rather than a reminder of his own tragedy they became a picture of his Saviours sacrifice. His life changed.  In time he was able to forgive his attackers. Then he went back to his country and planted a church. Another amazing story of Tragedy to triumph.


Can God do the same for you?    I'm sure He can. You simply need to do what John did. Don't leave when it all goes wrong. Instead, hang around.

Remember the second half of the passage "God works for the good of those who love him".  John loved Jesus and because he loved Him, he stayed near Him and was around for triumph. I wonder how many people face setback, don’t hang around, leave Jesus and miss the triumph.


The Bible says in everything God works for the good of those who love him.  Not in some things or in a few things, but in all things God works good. Try this. Remove the word everything, and replace it with a symbol of your trial or tragedy.  For the apostle John it would read "in burial garments God works for the good of those who love Him". For Rafael it would read "in scars God works for the good of those who love Him" .


How would Rom 8v28 read in your life? In sickness, God works for the good. In marriage failure God works for the good.  In the loss of a loved one God works for the good. In failure God works for the good. In mistakes, disappointments, bad decisions God works for the good.

If God can change John’s life through a tragedy, He can do the same for you. He loves you as much as He loves John.  As hard as it may be to believe you could be only a Saturday away from a resurrection.


Eg- Dr Criswell a pastor tells of a family he visited when the oil business was booming. The family lived in an area where oil was being discovered. Oil companies were buying oil rights to people’s properties and so many were becoming wealthy overnight. As Dr Criswell drove up to this family property he noticed no oil wells, while on an adjoining property several wells pumping away. The wife opened the door dejected. The husband said God has forgotten us. They discovered oil on properties all around us but not a drop on our land. Our neighbors are moving into the city and we are left here alone. Ever feel God has forgotten you? Do you feel overlooked as everyone around you seems blessed?  A few years later Dr Criswell met that family. The husband was very happy. He thought he must have found oil. In fact they never found any. The husband said all his neighbors moved to the city, bought expensive homes, new cars, put their kids in the finest schools. Then one by one marriages broke up, kids rebelled, he knew of not one still attending church regularly.

He said God did us a big favor by not putting oil on our land. We are still together and love each other more than ever. We thank Him every day for what He did for us.


Job
lost everything. His family, possessions, health, beyond tragedy. But He stayed close to God and ended up with twice as much. Imagine if Job had said, well! God if that's what you let happen in my life, I will no longer love or follow you. He would have missed out on unbelievable blessing.


David
at Ziklag lost his wives, children, friends, possessions and the city.


1 Samuel 30:1-6, when David and his men came to Ziklag, the Amalekites had attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way.
4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. David's two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.
v18-19 David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all.
David stayed close to God, encouraged Himself in Lord and recovered all.

Joseph
, was betrayed by his brothers. He was thrown into a pit, imprisoned for false accusations. God turned that tragedy to triumph as he becomes the Prime Minister of Egypt.

Eg- A man in the Mongrel Mob was on cocaine. He was put into prison for 10 years for attempted murder. He found God. Now he serves as a pastor to gang members. His Prison time became a symbol of triumph.

Eg-
Many of you will recall the Columbine school tragedy when many young people including Rachel Scott lost their lives as they were shot by 2 students. Rachel wanted to be a missionary.  She fulfilled that call.  On the day of her funeral alone, thousands of people gave their hearts to the Lord as they watched 3 hours of CNN uninterrupted - as the pure gospel message was preached to the entire world.  The Muslim community tuned in.  They received 25,000 cards of those whose lives had been changed by the funeral. God had turned a great tragedy into triumph.  Thousands of young people have been stirred to serve God with a greater passion.

Rachel wrote in her diary, my code of life is, "if one person can go out of their way to show compassion it will start a chain reaction, people will never know how far a little kindness will go". Three weeks before she was killed she stopped to help a young man change a flat tyre in a rainstorm. He attended the funeral of 3000 people, walked down the aisle, knelt before her coffin and gave his life to Jesus.  He wrote on her cross "Rachel your act of kindness changed my life".

The message of the cross is that in loss and tragedy God works triumph. 

 

Six ways God can  turn your trial into triumph.

1.  As with the Columbine shooting incident, people may get saved as a result of your trial.

2.  You become more like Christ and that is of infinite value.

3.  God  develops maturity and character in your life.  James 1v3-4 or .

4.  God uses the trials to prepare you be a man or woman of God who'll be fruitful and handle His blessing.

5.  Learn obedience  Heb 5v14

6.  Share in the fellowship of his sufferings. Phil 3v10.

Whatever trial, difficulty, or tragedy you are facing or have faced, God is a Master of turning tragedy into triumph if you will hang in there. Wait as the apostle John did, and do not desert your friend Jesus. When it’s Saturday in your life stay close to Jesus and be there to see the triumph.

 



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