Tony Evans tells the story about the cowboy who applied for health insurance. The agent routinely asked him, “Have you ever had any accidents?” The cowboy replied, “Well, no, I’ve not had any accidents. I was bitten by a rattlesnake once, and a horse did kick me in the ribs. That laid me up for a while, but I haven’t had any accidents.” The agent said, “Wait a minute. I’m confused. A rattlesnake bit you, and a horse kicked you. Weren’t those accidents?” “No, they did that on purpose.” Now that makes us laugh, but honestly accidents do happen.
There is a difference between accidents, mistakes, and sin. Accidents happen unexpectedly and unintentionally. Mistakes usually occur by judgment errors, misinterpretations, or by not paying attention to details. Sin occurs when we disobey the moral and Biblical instructions put forth in the Holy Bible.
|Bicycle racks in front of Den Haag Central Station, The Hague, The Netherlands|
Sometimes accidents kill. If you are reading this blog and you have experienced that type of accident with someone you know and love, I am so sorry. Three weeks ago my nephew’s good friend Adam was hit by a car when the driver failed to yield to the motorcycle he was on - killing him. My nephew was speechless that something like that could have been so easily preventable. We just don’t have the words for it.
But, today we are going to look at suffering and pain from the viewpoint of accidents, i.e. running into a concrete wall during basketball practice, being hit by lightning, electrical accidents. We are going to look at accidents that fortunately are not unto death. We must first understand that accidents do happen! They can happen because of risky behavior or they can happen without warning - with or without any ability on our part to avoid them. While we or a loved one may be in unrelenting or searing pain, the results are left in God’s hands. We know this because Jeremiah says, "For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcomes."
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we will be free from accidents. Mistakes and sins we can avoid, but not accidents. Sometimes accidents can’t be explained. Other times they are for a purpose - to test our faith – to keep us from evil – to increase our character - to help someone else in their faith walk.
A few years ago The Bama Group Research did a survey asking people what they would like to ask God. The number one question was that people wanted to ask God is “Why He allows pain and suffering in this world.” People usually ask that question when they are in the midst of a crisis situation or they are philosophically looking for an answer to the question. Either way, the question is asked frequently.
As a believer, when you are encountering pain and suffering due to an accident, how should you react to it?
- Start by having others pray for you. You may need to have a family member or friend contact believers to pray for you. [You may or may not be in any condition yourself to be praying at this point and that is okay.] Having others pray for you is importance for two reasons. Others are encouraged to enter a season of prayer, which they may or may not have been utilizing in their Christian walk. And secondly, God hears the healing prayers of the righteous. On a practical note, I love the phrase I have heard by Aaron Armstrong in Blogging Theologically. He says, “If any among you are sick, pray and get them to a doctor.”
- Recognize that Jesus understands our pain, because he suffered himself.
- Thank God for the strength to keep going – hour by hour, day by day, week by week, or month by month.
- Don’t blame God for your accident. Accidents happen unexpectedly through tragedies, disasters, and untimely incidents.
- Work hard NOT to become like King Ahaz in the Old Testament whose distress made him become more unfaithful the Lord. (2 Chronicles 28:22)
- Recognize that God allows everything for his glory.
During and after a time of pain and suffering, many have said they have become more confident in their walk with the Lord and they feel a deeper compassion towards people. When explaining the Godly results of suffering, Mary J. Yerkes states it best in her article When We Suffer: A Biblical Perspective on Chronic Pain and Illness. Yerkes states:
- Suffering produces intimacy with God (Job 42:5)- Suffering equips us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
- Suffering refines us. (Isaiah 48:10)
- Suffering produces growth and maturity (James 1:2-4)
- Suffering conforms us into God's image (Romans 8:28-29)
|Brovono Hospital, The Hague, Netherlands|
Let’s all try to look at accidents in this way from now on. As I mentioned accidents will happen. Your child may fall off a balance beam and break their arm; you may swallow some money; or you may flip your bike doing wheelies. Whatever it is, let’s remember that God knows what has happened and He is there to get you through your pain, and to show you His intended purposes.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18 ESV
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:9-10 ESV
Romans 5:3-5 ESV
As I look back over fifty years of ministry, I recall innumerable tests, trials and times of crushing pain. But through it all, the Lord has proven faithful, loving, and totally true to all his promises.
I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.
God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, [n]or circumstances, [n]or any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son (See Romans 8:28-29).
Dear Lord, Give refuge and strength to me (or a loved one) as I (she/he) have encountered a difficult blow leading to tremendous pain and suffering. You alone are my fortress and my rock. Be my comfort. Let me see light soon. Heal me. Show me the purpose in my suffering. When I am healed, let me be used by YOU in a new and mighty way. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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Books by Patti Londa Greene
Books by Patti Londa Greene
Awaken Me: a devotional prayer journal
God, It’s Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study