Every parent's nightmare
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away... Job 1.21
In the early hours of yesterday morning a couple in our church received the news every parent dreads: their son had been tragically killed, knocked over by a bus on his way home. it's an emotional wound from which they and their family will never fully recover because it reverses the natural order of life. No words of consolation will be adequate because all they want is to receive back their loved one.
There are gestures of sympathy which can be offered, of course: a visit, a letter, a phone call or email, a meal, a cake. Such will be appreciated because of the message that accompanies them: we recognise your grief, we love you and we want to support you. Yet they seem so inadequate.
CS Lewis expressed our predicament helpfully when he likened it to gazing at the moon. We see only the presenting side. God alone sees the reverse side. The reverse side of life is eternity: the greater reality in which everything makes sense and is as it should be. Jesus came to give us a glimpse and to show us the way.
When tragedy strikes, one response is to turn away from God: how could he allow this to happen? Others deny his very existence: there cannot be a God if... But we would do better to take a leaf out of Job's book: dig deep and trust. As the apostle Peter said to Jesus, when challenged about his own commitment: "Where else we would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life."
Faith is for all seasons and especially when the winter of untimely death intrudes into what should be the summer of life. Pray with King David who sang "Yea though I walk in death's dark vale yet will I fear no ill, for thou are with me and thy rod and staff me comfort still..." May all who suffer and perceive only a dark road ahead find strength and hope from the God of grace for whom all things are possible, who can and will heal all our wounds and who, in the meantime, walks that road with us.