Keeping the Faith in Tragedy

Who_they_were__The_victims_of_the_Montecito_mudslides_-_LA_TimesMany of us misunderstand God. Especially if we are strong believers, we appear to assume that our life should run smoothly, without serious setbacks. When we live for God, when we’re obedient to Scripture, when we follow Jesus, no accident, disaster, or tragedy will mar our upward ascent toward progress, success, and achievement. Psalm 91, for example, seems to provide strong support for this assumption. “If you make the Most High your dwelling,” says v. 9, “then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.” Because we trust in God, we are safe. This is an important theme in Scripture, reflected in Deuteronomy, the historical books and the prophets.

But exceptions crop up; life is not inevitable progress. Job is a case in point. Here is a man who, according to the narrator (1:1) and to the Lord (1:8; 2:3) is righteous. If anything, Job demonstrated scrupulosity beyond the ordinary, in regularly calling for his children to purify themselves and in offering sacrifices for them, in case they sin by cursing God secretly. Job, nevertheless, encountered a quick succession of disasters similar to what some right now experience in California. “It is with heavy hearts we share that our dear friend and partner, Rebecca Riskin, has passed away as a result of the tragic flooding and mudslides in Montecito,” says her luxury real estate company, Riskin Partners, on Facebook. Flooding also claimed the life a founder of a Catholic school and damaged or destroyed homes owned by Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneris.

If we believe in our own inviolability, we likely will find our faith severely challenged when life reverses. Without morbid preoccupation, we nevertheless do well to live with a sense of the fragility of life. We have no guarantees of success, progress, or or life itself. No guarantees against loss, tragedy, and death. Job reminds us of this.

[Sources:  Who They Were: The Victims of Montecito Mudslides, Los Angeles Times Staff 1/12/18 Picture: Family photo, LA Times]

About Grose

Gordon Grose loves most to write, speak, and preach on the message of hope from the book of Job. Using drama, video, and PowerPoint, he has preached and presented this message of hope to churches around the country. Grose pastored three congregations 25 years, then served 12 years as a pastoral counselor in a Portland, Oregon counseling clinic. He now serves with Good Samaritan Counseling Services, Beaverton, OR. A graduate of Wheaton College (IL), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Brandeis University, and Boston University, he comes from a rich and varied background in theological and counseling training. In 2015, Gordon published Tragedy Transformed: How Job's Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours, a book about turning to Job for hope after tragedy. If you have experienced life challenges or personal tragedy, visit his Transforming Tragedy ( blog to learn more. provides a sample of Gordon's speaking as well as an opportunity to purchase copies of his book.
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