“There are three types of people — those who can count and those who cannot,” said a poor mathematician.

Regardless of your skill at math, you are a person who fits into one of two categories — either you are currently suffering a tragedy, or you will soon be suffering a tragedy. I’m sorry if this sounds fatalistic. It’s simply reality. The big question is why does it have to be this way?

Suffering and hardship are part of life because we live in a fallen world, but there are other reasons we experience their discomfort. Satan, the Accuser of the Brethren, constantly hurls accusations against us. Sometimes God allows Satan to bring tragedy and loss into our lives. Sometimes we are to blame for our calamities. Through our poor choices we may cause ourselves and others great pain — after falling for Satan’s lies, Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, beginning the first of thousands of years of suffering for humanity.

God may also use suffering as the means of drawing out our value as His instruments. But then there are some tragedies we cannot explain: the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the damage and loss of life from tsunamis in Asia, or the loss of a family member due to cancer. Whatever the cause of our painful circumstances, instead of demanding an explanation from God, we should ask Him what we can learn from them and determine we will still praise Him.

If you are suffering from a tragedy, I hope this will remind you to praise and seek God in the midst of the situation. If you know someone struggling through great hardship, I encourage you to pray for them and offer your support. Be the friend you want others to be for you.

For more on understanding why God allows pain and tragedy in our lives, read Why Life Hurts by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.