My community has been hit hard by the tragic death of a young wife and mother who was killed by a drunk driver while out for a morning run. While I did not know the young woman, it’s hard not to feel the pain in my heart knowing the hole that is left by her loss. She had three young children and was seemingly in the prime of her life.
It almost seems inevitable that when tragedy strikes, everyone becomes interested in God, in some form. Usually, at least in my experience, the interest is more in disproving him or at least chastising him for allowing such a tragedy to happen. If God is loving and good, how does he allow for such a tragedy to take place? Why didn’t he step in and intervene? Couldn’t he have protected her?
Trust me, I’ve been there before. While I’ve not had something this dramatic happen in my life, I’ve experienced loss and my family has experienced its share of loss. I’ve been at that place where I’ve looked to the sky and asked, “why?” I’ve felt angry and frustrated, wondering how a loving God could allow such tragedy to strike so deep. When something tragic happens we can come up with lots of reasons why it’s even more tragic.
It was just over a year ago that one of my best friends lost his 6 month old son to a rare form of pediatric cancer. It was devastating and the wound cut so deep that on the first anniversary of his death, it still seemed so fresh. Those who have experienced loss know that anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions can cause an overwhelming flood of emotion to sweep over them. The old adage is that it never gets any easier. You just learn to cope better.
I spoke at the funeral of my friend’s baby. It was among the most humbling and difficult things that I have ever experienced in my life. Answers seemed to fall short, but I leaned on God for comfort.
When we experience loss, what do we lean on? Each other? Our jobs? Our communities? Our God? We can turn to so many different places to find hope, but most of them fall short of providing us hope that is lasting, hope that doesn’t fail us. While I wonder why tragedies happen, I also wonder how people who don’t believe in God survive such tragedies. I genuinely don’t know.
Some might say that it’s inner strength and self-assurance, but there has to be more to it than just that, doesn’t there? Why do some people respond so differently to tragedy? How is it that two people can experience similar tragedies with vastly different results? One rises above the fray and chaos of loss while the other gets stuck down in the midst of it.
When we experience tragedy, or are a witness to it, it has a way of being the great equalizer for us. It lends us perspective. We hug our loved ones a little tighter, kiss them a little bit longer, stare at them for a few seconds more. Life is a vapor and when it’s swirling around us, we have a tendency to forget that.
The older I get, the more tragedy seems to strike around me. Maybe I wasn’t quite as aware of it when I was younger, maybe I thought that I was immune to it because it seemed such a long way off in the distance. Regardless, I am learning more and more each day to capture moments when I meet them rather than putting them off for a more convenient time. Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, especially as it relates to your friends and your family?
God knows all of the intricacies of his creation, I don’t. I will never understand why tragedy hits some people and avoids others. I won’t understand how bad things happen to good people, at least not on this side of eternity. I still rest in Christ alone. I still lean on the solid rock for my footing and foundation. I still believe and trust that his plan is good and his ways are sovereign. Call me what you will, this is where I find my hope.