Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The proper response to tragedy

15 After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. 16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17 The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

 18 Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?”

 19 When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

   “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

 20 Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions,[b] and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.

 21 His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.”

 22 David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”  (2 Samuel 12:15-23, NLT)

During our spring revival services, our guest speaker shared a story of someone he'd been counseling.  The man was about to be divorced, and our speaker told him he should fast and pray over his situation.  At their next session, our speaker asked the man if he had heeded his advice.  The man answered, "No.  I guess I just don't want it bad enough."

It's been a little while since I last read this account in 2 Samuel -- I'm currently working through 1 Chronicles now.  But, since re-reading it, it's been....haunting me.  It's Scripture that I seem to continually find my thoughts going back to.

I know why.

Because it's in this Scripture that I believe we see what our proper response to tragedy should be.  In King David we see complete brokenness, manifested through prayer and fasting.

The Scripture above references what happened after David's sin with Bathsheba.  He had committed adultery with the wife of one of his officers.  When he found out she was pregnant with his child, he tried to get Uriah (Bathsheba's husband) to sleep with her so he would believe the child was his.  However, Uriah did not want to have such luxury while his men were on the battlefield fighting.  And so David had him killed.  Nathan the prophet then came and confronted the king with his sin and told him  that because of his sin, the child of David and Bathsheba would die.

The key to this is recognizing that David is dealing with the consequence of his actions.  His child fell ill because of what he'd done.  But, instead of moping around, feeling sorry for himself, verse 16 tells us that he "begged God to spare the child" and "[h]e went without food".  He would continue to do this until 1) God decided to spare the child's life or 2) God carried out His plan.  As we see in the following verses, God did not spare the child, and on the seventh day of its illness, the child died.

What happened next amazed his advisors.  They figured he was acting unreasonably while the child was alive, he would act even more so after finding out the child was dead.  However, upon the grim news, David got up, bathed, WORSHIPED THE LORD, and essentially went back to business as usual.

In the time of a great tragedy in his life, David worshiped the Lord.  What a response.  When he may have found it easy to be angry and bitter and turn from God, he did the opposite.  He worshiped Him.  There's something to chew on!

As mentioned, when David's child died, he went back to business as usual.  When asked by his advisors about his 180, he told him that he fasted and wept when there was a chance that God may have mercy on him and let the child live.  But, now that the child was dead, there was nothing more that he could do.  There was no point in continuing to mourn or dwell in self-pity.  God had done what He said He would.  Nothing would change that.

I guess there's not much more I can add to that....

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