When Tragedy Strikes: Jesus' Response to a World Gone Wrong

(Paperback - Aug 2002)
$8.99 - Online Price


The Reality Check series makes just one assumption: that you re serious enough about your spiritual journey to investigate Christianity with an open mind. This isn t about joining anyone s religious club it s about being real with yourself and with the others in your group. Since no one has all the answers, there s plenty of room for discussion. After all, if there is any truth to the Bible s stories about Jesus, then one thing he d welcome are questions and opinions that come from honest, earnest hearts. If there is a God and he s good, then why doesn t he do something about the evil and suffering in this world? Where was he when the Twin Towers fell? Where is he in the midst of your own tragedy? Questions like these are hardly academic they re the gut-wrenching cry of a world consumed with unendurable pain and ugliness. Something about this life is so terribly broken that only God can fix it. So why doesn t he or has he . . . is he . . . and will he? When Tragedy Strikes includes these sessions: Where Is God When Tragedy Strikes? Is God to Blame? How Should You Respond to Evil? Is War the Solution? What Has God Done About Evil? Will Evil Win in the Long Run? For the Group Leader Reality Check is for spiritual seekers of every persuasion. Uncompromisingly Christian in its perspective, it steers wide of pat answers and aims at honesty. This innovative and thought-provoking series will challenge you and those in your group to connect heart to heart as together you explore the interface between Jesus, the Bible, and the realities of this world in which we live."


  • SKU: 9780310245247
  • UPC: 025986245245
  • SKU10: 0310245249
  • Title: When Tragedy Strikes: Jesus' Response to a World Gone Wrong
  • Series: Reality Check (Zondervan)
  • Qty Remaining Online: 2
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Date Published: Aug 2002
  • Pages: 96
  • Weight lbs: 0.31
  • Dimensions: 9.10" L x 5.98" W x 0.30" H
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical;
  • Category: STUDY GUIDE
  • Subject: Christian Education - Adult

Chapter Excerpt

Chapter One



Watch the portion of the movie Patch Adams where he was contemplating God's presence in an evil world. What was Patch Adams' conclusion?

Patch Adams' experience of calling out to God in difficult times is common to all humanity. What are some specific examples of experiences that could cause people to cry out to God today?

If you've ever called out to God in a time of distress, did he seem close or far away, and why?

How did that particular situation make you feel?

How close is God in times of stress? Where was God when the World Trade Center was burning in New York? When the Federal building was bombed in Oklahoma City? When millions of Jews were exterminated in concentration camps? Where is God when loved ones get sick or die in wars? Does he care about individuals? Can he handle the honest, pain-filled questions of those who are experiencing pain?

These are the deeply human questions we ask of God in times of loss. But what are the answers? We can learn much about this subject from those in the past who have experienced similar loss. Transport back in time about three thousand years to the life of a writer named Asaph. We have no idea who Asaph was or what was happening in his life, only that he was a director of music when David was king. And yet the following song he wrote is powerful and speaks to our times as well.

Read Psalm 77:1-9

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night.

My heart mused and my spirit inquired: "Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"


1. What adjectives would you use to characterize the tone of this song, or psalm?

2. What's remarkable about the way Asaph approaches God?

3. In order for people to be able to approach God in this way, what must God be like?

4. Why do you think God included this song by an unknown person in his book, the Bible?

Consider the following story from the life of Jesus, who claimed to be God in a human body.

Read John 11:17-44

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked.

"Come and see, Lord," they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. "Take away the stone," he said.

"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."


5. Skim the story for any clues about Jesus' relationship with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. How might you characterize this relationship?

6. Notice the shortest sentence in this story (incidentally, also the shortest verse in the Bible): "Jesus wept." We find out early in the story that Jesus knew he'd raise Lazarus from the dead. So why do you think he wept?


Jesus thinks of his followers as his spiritual family. Given what you've seen of him in this story, how do you think he responds when his family comes to him full of pain and questions?

From looking at Asaph's song and the story of Lazarus, how would you respond to the question, "Where is God when tragedy (or a specific tragedy) strikes?"

If you could talk to God face-to-face about pain, suffering, war, or justice, what questions would you ask?



Also in "Reality Check (Zondervan)" Series