A Note on Tragedy and Loss

So, 2011 is off to a sad start for our family. Over the past month, four of our family’s long time friends have passed away within weeks of each other. Three people died from cancer and one person from complications following a heart transplant. All of our friends, except for one, were in their early fifties. As I heard about each death, my first inclination was to wonder what factors contributed to their deaths (e.g. why?). Was it an unhealthy diet? Genetics? Where they lived (e.g. close to a toxic factory or stream where chemicals were dumped?)? A combination of things?

Then, there was the horrific shooting out in Arizona. I got an email in my inbox today discussing the shooting and how the foods we eat can affect our mental health. The article (click here to read) claims that the shooter was probably suffering from severe nutritional deficiencies, which caused major mental health problems. The author made some valid points about the connections between what we eat and how it can affect our health. I too often long for easy solutions for complex problems. I’d love to believe that if everyone just ate all the right foods, we’d all be protected from tragedies like mass shootings, cancer, and a host of other problems. Yet, life is not that simple.

It’s natural when we deal with grief to be overwhelmed with emotion, and we should be. Death stings. It’s painful and tragic. We live in a fallen world and the consequence of such and of our sin is death. We could eat all the “right” foods and avoid all things that have the slightest chance of being toxic/harmful (cars, planes, cell phones, microwaves, guns, etc.) and we will still die one way or another. My confidence and comfort for my own destiny rest in the faith I have placed in Jesus Christ who died for me so I could have eternal life. When tragedy occurs around me, my confidence and comfort lies in the simple truth that God is sovereign. He has a plan. None of our friends’ deaths was a surprise to Him. Each was a part of the intricate pattern carefully crafted and woven into the fabric of history by our Lord. How thankful I am that all I need to do is trust. How thankful I am that He is God and I am not.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “There is an active practice of holiness as we carry out, for the glory of God, the ordinary duties of each day, faithfully fulfilling the responsibilities given to us. The passive practice consists in loving acceptance of the unexpected, be it welcome or unwelcome, remembering that we have a wise and sovereign Lord who works in mysterious ways and is never taken by surprise.”

*This post is shared on Homemaking Link-Up!

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2 thoughts on “A Note on Tragedy and Loss

  1. I am so sorry for your losses.

    It boggles my mind that in a country where we have access to the healthiest of foods, most of them even affordable, year ’round, we have so many unhealthy individuals.

  2. Nicole Swinton says:

    You wrote a timely article Grace. We just received two bad pieces of news- suicide and also a leukemia diagnosis (neither case involves close relations of ours). I agree with you, that the cancer and other sickness in this world is a result of the fall and our own sin, as well as the way we care for (or don’t care for) our bodies. Clearly there is a link between toxic environments, poor nutrition and health problems. But I think parts of the linked article that guy wrote were a bit extreme. He claims the combination of chemical substances, violent media and nutritional deficiencies will “inevitably create mental patients out of people who would have otherwise been harmless.” God’s word tells us that there is no such thing as a harmless person (Rom. 3:10-18). Anything less than perfect holiness is harmful in God’s eyes. (And I truly don’t believe that factory farm meat from violently handled animals makes the people who eat it violent.) If this guy’s claims were true, the American population would be overwrought with homicidal maniacs raging against the minority of non-toxic, 100% healthy, peaceful folks. Mental illness is the result of genetics, generational sin, trauma and abuse. Psychiatric drugs are not the problem, though perhaps they need to be more carefully prescribed and monitored. Some mental illnesses are debilitating without the administration of controlled substances. But the only true cure is personal admission of sin and surrender to the Great Physician.

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