A Family Circle Series: Tragedy in the Home

By Leslie Diestellcamp

Sooner or later, and sometimes repeatedly, tragedy must come to every family circle. The attitudes that prevail then-under the stress and the emotional impact of emergency conditions-may vary well determine the course of the future for many and even the eternal destiny of all who are concerned and involved.

Of course there are so many events that occur in our homes that seem, to us, to be real tragedies. But in these brief articles, I shall not try to even mention most such things. Suffice it to say, that if one is able to cope with any great crisis, he may be able to also respond properly to every such calamity. Therefore, for this study, let us consider four common tragedies that often occur:

Financial Ruin

Usually this is not a great problem for people who have always been very poor. The greater problem comes to people who have had plenty and then find themselves nearly destitute. For many otherwise good people who have lived in luxury, when poverty comes in at the door, love .flies out the window. The husband may become dejected, melancholy and even bitter. Blaming himself as a failure, he adds to the woes that are imposed by poverty by becoming sad, down-at-the-mouth, mad-at-the-world. Likewise the wife may become a neurotic recluse because she is so embarrassed and humiliated.

But financial troubles should not cause serious family problems. In fad, with proper attitudes, families may be drawn closer together as they struggle to overcome such disaster. Money is not evil, but “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). And, love for money may manifest itself in greed, selfishness and materialistic pride.

One of the hardest lessons some Christians may have to learn in these affluent times is that “godliness with contentment is great gain” and that having food and clothing, we should be therewith content (1 Tim. 6:6, 8). The best admonition I can give to any of God’s people upon whom financial disaster has come is to read Mt. 6:19-34. Jesus directs that we lay up treasures in heaven, that we put out trust in God instead of material things, that we consider the lilies of the field and the fowls of the air (and God’s care for them), and that we “seek first the kingdom.”

Financial ruin will certainly cause inconvenience and it may indeed require great sacrifice. But it is not the greatest calamity that can befall a family and with scriptural attitudes that include faith in God, hope for heaven, love for companions and humility of heart, families can survive such material failures and press on in a joyful bond of togetherness and a happy devotion to the greater objectives of spiritual accomplishments in Christ. (Warning: Sometimes wealth, not poverty may be the greater disaster. I do not doubt that prosperity may have wrecked more homes than has poverty. We must be wary of Satan’s devices to use the lack of money or the abundance of it to destroy our family circles.)

Going Home From The Cemetery

Some will say that the trip home from the graveyard is the greatest tragedy of all, but as I shall point out in the next article in this series, I do not believe it. Yet death is a terrifying word and an empty chair in the family circle is cause for a natural arid a proper sorrow. To small children who lose a parent and to a husband or wife who lose a companion, there are no words that can dry every tear and no consolation that can soothe every ache in the heart. But we must not become morbid, sullen, bitter people. Most of all we must not blame God for our misfortune. God is not killing people today — he does not kill our children, our companions or our parents. He does allow the incidental circumstances of life to take their toll. He does not prevent death when those earthly conditions combine to bring the grim reaper to our door.

The Christian who is a parent and is left without a companion certainly has additional obligations, but not impossible ones. In this case it is not fair to the children to assume that failure is inevitable. A one-parent family can indeed overcome the natural obstacles and can be a truly great family, characterized with joy and righteousness. The death of a spouse will leave a void that will never be filled, entirely., But the surviving spouse can overcome despair by: (1) Looking back upon precious memories — they can be as ointment upon a wound. (2) Looking forward to opportunities to help others, to determined efforts to keep the faith and to keep anticipation of a home in heaven.

In such times of sadness, to look inward with self-pity brings despair, but to look outward with unselfish interest in others brings satisfaction and serenity. And remember, there are worse tragedies than death and we shall consider two of them in the next installment in this series.

Truth Magazine XXII: 21, p. 338
May 25, 1978