Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Laura Ingalls Wilder - she'd written some books that enjoyed some success - but her name became almost a household word only after her death. After "Little House on the Prairie", based on her books, became the #1 TV series in America. Even though the series has been off the air for years, you can still find it just about any given day in almost any American city. And Laura's books about her family's life on the frontier have sold far more after her death than when she was alive. And as you read those books, you find that Laura really was a gifted storyteller. In touring the home where she wrote them, we learned one of the reasons why she was such a good story teller. As the TV series portrayed, her older sister went blind as a teenager. And Pa Ingalls told Laura she now had a mission - to be her sister's eyes, to put into words what was going on around them. That gift would later help her tell the stories that would touch the lives of millions.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Tragedy's Eyes".

A tragedy helped Laura Ingalls see things as she had never seen them, helped her develop capabilities that would help her touch many lives, that would make her great. That experience is not unique to her.

Americans watched it happen on a national scale after the terrible events of September 11, 2001. The deadly attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was a tragedy of unprecedented proportions. But what followed was absolutely amazing - a national unity most of us had never seen before, a renewed love for our country, millions turning to God, a national resolve to change things. It's hard to imagine any of that without the awful catalyst of that tragedy. We saw things we hadn't seen before. We became something we hadn't been before.

What happened on a national scale . . . what happened to Laura Ingalls on a personal scale - those are pictures that remind of us of the good that can come from some of life's most painful experiences. That could be very important for you to remember right now - because you're going through one of those painful experiences right now. The pain is deep - but it's not the whole story - because God uses tragedy to help build people into something greater.

Job is the man whose name is forever equated with human suffering. The Bible tells us that he lost his health, his wealth, and his children. As he is coming out of his long, dark tunnel, he says something very revealing to God - it's in Job 42:5, our word for today from the Word of God. Job says, "My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen you." What Job experienced, millions of believers have experienced over the centuries - that you see God in tragic times in a way you just don't see Him in good times. You don't really know the Lord until you know you really need the Lord.

Tragedies aren't good - but they can produce great good. A child of divorce often develops maturity well ahead of their peers because of additional responsibility. Out of our health crises, our financial or family crises, our failures can come a compassion, a tenderness, a sensitivity that may open up a lifetime of ministry to hurting people. And there's something about our hard times that shakes up our priorities - it makes us realize the unimportant things we've been focusing on and the important things we've been neglecting.

There's something about a tragedy that helps us see things we could never see before - things that God can use to touch many lives.