A few thoughts on what I think tragedy is... and isn't:
I'm studying through a good book right now with a great group of ladies. It's called"Lord, Calm my Anxious Heart,"by Linda Dillow. This weeks lesson included a quote from Henry Kissinger: "To Americans usually tragedy is wanting something very badly and not getting it" (Granted, I know sometimes we want good things and it is sad and tough and hard not to get them.... but...) We are so spoiled. For the most part, this really isn't tragedy.
Half the world away from our home town, about two weeks ago a man who has been held in prison for more than a year without a proper trial and no conviction, was beaten head to toe. He has two sons and wife who he hasn't seen for this whole time and he recently asked an outsider- who was surprisingly able to contact him- about his three loved ones. His wife managed to send word to him just before his beating: "We are proud of you. We have never been more firm in our faith." Are there any two things that would be more important to communicate at a time like that? Nearly tragedy, except that for these dear ones their faith, which is of greater worth than gold (I Peter 1:7), is firmer than ever in Christ.
Tragedy is when my own heart is filled with an attitude that I am the central most important figure on the planet, an attitude that Jerry Bridges nails in his book Transforming Grace, (p.77), describing it as saying: "The world owes me something just because I am." Sadly, I am guilty of this proud arrogant heart far, far too often, and it is tragically sad to be so self-absorbed.
Tragedy is when Easter is celebrated by "Christians" (not even looking at how non-Christians celebrate it) as a day to remember Jesus as a really nice guy who was unjustly killed. Maybe he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The infinite value of His death is that by it, he purchased a sinful, sick, broken people back to a holy, perfect, pure-love God. The point is that God so loved us- the whole world- that He gave His only Son to die for us, to bring us back into right relationship with God. Christ's death reconciles all of us who believe- us who are sinful, dirty, wrong, broken, bent on evil and warped in our understanding and perspective of the world- to our infinitely good God.
It is a bitter thing to have a gift refused. For God, who is richer than all the monies in this world could ever define, gave the most valuable gift he could give... and gave it to a most unworthy, undeserving recipient. For that gift to not be cashed in, to be so squanderously devalued, to be rejected, is indeed a tragedy.
Jesus' death was a tragedy. Absolute tragedy that this perfect God Man would die as ransom for a people who had never earned, and could never by their own effort attain a stitch of his favor. BLESS THE LORD for this tragedy! All of us who believe are forgiven, released from the penalty we deserve for our sin. We are brought into joy eternal with Him because of the great tragedy of the cross (John 11:25-26, Psalm 16:11)
Tragedy turned victory is what we really do celebrate in the cross and resurrection of Christ. That victory is what Easter is all about. It is well worth celebrating as the most amazing, infinitely valuable gift that could ever be given, the most incredible, infinitely good gift ever to be received.
May we celebrate it well- with great joy- today!