“The winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” (Matthew 7:27)

The citizens of Jerusalem expe­rienced just such a collapse. After numerous infidelities to God, he permitted Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, to conquer them. He dashed their city to the ground, deposed their king, and dragged him into exile along with all the powerful and skilled people of the land.

In the face of such devastation, there are two equally disastrous responses. One is despair, believ­ing that it is just plain impossible to build a house that will stand. And some Jews gave into the temptation to forget their status as God’s chosen people and allowed themselves to be assimilated into the pagan culture of their captors.

The other response is to try to reconstruct the city on the same sandy spot, subject to the same destructive forces—not so much the ravages of bloodthirsty neigh­bors as the lack of a strong spiritual foundation.

The wiser response to tragedy is solemn reflection, a deep and hum­ble listening. What needs to change in order to build more solidly? What “rock” is solid enough to sustain the kingdom God is calling us to build? For many of the Jews, a new sense of identity emerged out of their experi­ence of exile. Even in a foreign land, they persisted in reflecting on God’s Word, keeping his commandments, and living in community with others who shared their faith.

We shouldn’t look at tragedies in our own lives as God’s punish­ment for sin, or even the natural consequence of our poor choices. However, God does have something to teach us through every collapse. Sometimes that lesson involves repentance and the resolution to choose more wisely. Sometimes he invites us to refocus on the most essential things in our life with him and let go of lesser things. But sometimes we won’t be able to see his greater purpose. All we can do is declare that he is good and ask him what he would have us do next in order to build with him.

No matter what collapses around us, there is a rock that remains, and that Rock is Christ.

“Jesus, you are my Rock. Deepen my faith in your love, your wisdom, and your provision—no matter what collapses around me.”

2 Kings 24:8-17; Psalm 79:1-5,8-9