A couple of dear, longtime friends lost a child last week – much too soon. Any time a child dies before the parents, it is much too soon. And this child was murdered. A life violently interrupted, ended, destroyed, is hard to comprehend and beyond tragic.

I told a mutual friend that for such a terrible thing, there are no words. But, as I watched the funeral service via livestream, I realized, listening to our friend talk about his child, that there is one word that’s been uttered again and again by everyone who knew and loves this child. That word is “Why?” Why did this have to happen? Why this family? Why any family? Why so young? Why did God allow it? Why is God silent now? Why are some people so lost, so mired in sin and evil, that they have no compunction about taking an innocent person’s life?

Sometimes the silence is deafening…

There’s not always an answer for that why. Not this side of heaven anyway. But we can and should ask the question. We get to be sad, beyond sad. We can be angry and question God as to why He would allow this to happen. It’s part of the grieving process. It’s just how our human hearts are made. And, since God made our human hearts, He understands our questions. He certainly understands our sorrow.

Look to the cross, Jesus hanging there, tortured and dying for our salvation. And as He begs the Father, “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?” we see that God is no stranger to tragedy or to violent death.

God wants us at our best and at our worst. God will collect every tear we cry in His mighty, but gentle hand. And God weeps with us. Let us pray for a time to come, with God’s grace, compassion, and mercy, when the promises of Christ will bring us comfort. Jesus says He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And He tells us that He prepares a place for us in His Father’s house. If it weren’t true, He would not have told us.

Hope in the Promise

It’s all we can do, hope in the promise. It’s not just anybody’s word. It’s Jesus, who is the Word made Flesh. He came into the world to save us; He died to save us. And as His Mother mourns in loud, unintelligible cries at the foot of the cross, we see unabashed grief despite the promise. Now there’s a scene to contemplate. And let the words of the Psalmist be ours, too. “Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” Sometimes we don’t know where God is. Tell Him so as you shake your fist or shake with emotion. There are many lamentations in the Book of Psalms. That’s God’s way of telling us He knows how tragic life can and will be. Again, though, no answer to the question, “Why?” I think it’s clear that God expects us to desperately cry out. Sometimes we cry out to Him; sometimes we cry out against Him.

It can feel like we’re in our own private hell when we grieve for our loved ones who’ve been taken from us. But that’s not how it is. God is with us through everything we endure – or enjoy.

We can allow the Lord to hold us and we can open up our hearts to receive His peace and grace. Cry for what is lost, for what might have been, of course. But, maybe, one day in the distant future, we will rejoice at realizing what has been found and for what IS. Heaven is eternal life in the presence of the Lord. The reality of our loved one there, around the Throne, may that bring us joy. One day. But till then, let’s be there for those who mourn. No answers, no words, no quick fixes, and lots of pain now; that’s reality, too. So acknowledge the pain but we can’t forget to keep a small flame in the depths of our souls so that the hope can blaze bright and warm again. And then we can look forward to the glorious day of reunion. How long will that be? We don’t know; we can’t know. But that will just make it all the more sweet.

Every tear will be wiped away” on that glorious day…That’s a promise.

3 thoughts on “On tragedy and hope

  1. Thank you for your powerful words for dealing with grief. I find comfort in knowing I will see my son again and even though his life was short, just how powerful an impact his 24 years on this earth, had on so many people. Thank you for expressing so wonderfully the comfort and joy of God’s grace that can be found even when dealing with profound loss. Sincerely, Kathy McConnell

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